In September 2017, Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN) challenged 2nd year students studying BA(Hons) Graphic Design to create merchandise to help raise £40,000 on its 40th anniversary year. The students were set three words, describing how most women felt after their counselling with RCTN: Hope, Solidarity, and Liberation.
The art exhibition entitled ‘Response’ held at The Globe Gallery last 12th October and ended 20th October displays at least two illustrations from each student.
Upon entering The Globe Gallery, I was greeted with a warm welcome from the artists and employees from the RCTN. I was then drawn into Josh Aitken’s ‘Love You’. It struck me immediately with sadness, as the woman seems trapped on a vicious cycle by someone. Yet, she also hugs herself. This passionate gesture encapsulates the woman regaining self-love and self-acceptance. In Aitken’s second portrait ‘Be You’, the woman’s self-love has flourished, with a newly developed positivity. Both portraits use red and black with control, showing a loving and powerful woman.
Sarah Montgomery utilises an acorn as a metaphor for new life. In ‘Beginning’ the acorn was small. In the ‘Process’ the woman waters the plant, allowing it to grow. ‘Flourish’ reveals a tall tree. It seems like these are reminiscent of the services provided by RCTN. Alike to the young girl, she is regaining her strength by counselling.
Throughout my deeper journey into the exhibition, the illustrations invited me to slowly contemplate into the themes of the exhibition: hope, solidarity, and liberation. Callum Scott experiments with geometric shapes and colours to non-figuratively express the three words. In ‘Hope Burst’ Scott truly encapsulates an upsurge of freedom. The dark blue triangles contrasts with the vibrant colours, almost symbolising a way out of the darkness. It resembles the style of the Memphis Design Movement due to its pleasing aesthetics, but Scott goes beyond by subtly imposing meaning into the illustrations.
Asa Hindarti interestingly interprets hope, solidarity, and liberation through drawing on the traditional Indonesian dance, Tarian Kebebasan. The dance symbolises freedom, as a woman transforms from a young child into a mature adult.
A standout moment is that of Hung-Ling Chen, who emphasises the interruption of life. Chen draws the eyes in an empty space in the middle of her swirling illustrations, leaving us in complete reflection with the beauty and complexity of nature.
The Northumbria University students did a praiseworthy job by bringing hope, solidarity, and liberation to life with varying interpretations. The exhibition highlights that female victims of sexual violence can have a bright future.