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Jess McKay, Alice Collumbell and Ciara Taylor.

Ciara Taylor, aged 19 from Northwich; Alice Collumbell, 21, from Newcastle-under-Lyme; 20-year-old Jess McKay from Huddersfield; and Harriet Sharp, who’s 19 and from Bradford, hosted the event as part of their Collaborative Practice exhibition module.

Using the theme, ‘What is charity to you?’, the students exhibited photographs and film work which explored individual feelings about charity and its importance. Alongside their exhibition, they held a bake sale and raffle which raised more than £189.76 for the charity.

Alice Collumbell explains how they came up with the idea to support The Joshua Tree: “We chose to focus our exhibition on something that could help others; which is why we chose The Joshua Tree. The charity is local to Cheshire, but it is also very personal to Ciara. It was her friend Joshua who inspired the charity and, as her friends, we wanted to support her and something that has affected her, in any way that we could.”

Ciara Taylor explains more about the exhibition itself: “The question that we asked was answered within the work: ‘What is charity to you?’ This was a running theme throughout and we answered this within the pieces shown on the wall. We used a cloud hang technique to showcase Jess and Ciara’s images, which merged them in a way that showed togetherness and created a sense of community whilst still showing their work individually to an extent. Jess created A1 sized images made from photographed letters found from around Chester which spelt out “What Does Charity Mean To You?” The letters were accompanied by collages made from items bought from charity shops. The importance of sewing the mixed media collages on to the lettered images was to show that by giving you get back. Surrounding this were images of Joshua from The Joshua Tree, created by Ciara. Some consist of how he looks now and some double exposing what it was like when he was going through his chemotherapy treatment. We also used a typology of people using whiteboards and pens - portraits that display the first word that comes to mind when they think of charity. (Harriet Sharp created these.) Accompanying these images was a time lapse video, made by Alice, with a backing track of people telling us what charity means to them on a personal level. This corresponds with the theme of interaction by building a one-on-one relationship with the person being interviewed- once again emphasising the community that comes together from charity.”

Jess McKay said: “Having the work being so public and open allowed us to showcase what we have been building towards for months. It was a great experience that we will take forward. It allowed us to work in a professional manner. What we enjoyed most about the entire experience, though, was that it got to the people it needed to. It allowed us to speak to people who have gone through the same thing and people looking for somewhere to get support.”

Their tutor, Deputy Head of the Department of Art and Design, Tracy Piper-Wright, said: “We are always keen to encourage our students to engage with audiences and communities beyond the University, and the Collaborative Practice module provides a good framework for that. Ciara, Alice, Jess and Harriet have put together an accomplished project, which uses a range of innovative approaches to address a real world issue. Their dedication to The Joshua Tree foundation went above and beyond just making work for their module, and I am incredibly proud of their efforts to raise money and awareness for such an important cause.”

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