Pieces by two women from the North-East are on display in a prestigious exhibition of postgraduate artwork

TWO North-East women have had their work chosen to be part of an exhibition of the best postgraduate artwork in the UK. Angela Kennedy, from Sunderland, and Kathleen Calder, from Whitley Bay, have had their art chosen to appear in the prestigious

MA & Other Postgraduates Exhibition 2018 at the Atkinson Gallery, in Somerset.

Angela, 56, graduated in 2017 from the University of Sunderland with a Masters degree in Fine Art. Her remarkable large-scale artwork was inspired by the experiences of growing up with her mother. “The work, Vein, was inspired by a visit to Hendon, in Sunderland, where I discovered my 87-year-old mother was born,” says Angela. “The work is, in part, a response to the site, to my amazing mother and my experiences of growing up with, and surviving, domestic violence.”

Vein is an 11-metre-tall transparent roll of text. It will go on show at the Atkinson Gallery from Monday. Fellow artist Kathleen Calder, 53, was born in South Shields, and now lives in Whitley Bay – moving there via Scotland, Leeds, and Italy.

Kathleen worked in financial services for 18 years after leaving school, returning to education in 2014 to study for an HND in Fine Art at TyneMet College. Three years later, in November 2017, Kathleen graduated from the University of Sunderland with an MA in Fine Art. Her work, Blossom Gallion, will go on display alongside Angela’s in the Atkinson Gallery.

“I have always been interested in abstract and representational art from the past, such as Van Gogh’s blossoms, and Fiona Rae’s paintings,” says Kathleen. “My time at Sunderland was a positive experience which helped me to develop into a more confident painter and to pursue my ambition to be a freelance artist.”

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, giving the vote to women over the age of 30 – and both women say that they have been inspired by the women who came before them. Kathleen says: “After bringing up my family, I wanted to do something for me. I have no regrets and enjoyed the experience of going to university. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and believe that anything is possible with a positive outlook. The words of Emmeline Pankhurst, ‘Deeds, not words’, always make me remember to actually go out and do that something – not just daydream about it.”

Angela says: “I feel that at times coming from a working class background and being female means you don’t feel part of what can sometimes be an elitist art world, particularly when you start speaking, and people make assumptions about your intelligence and ability based purely on your accent or gender. Many ordinary older women friends and colleagues inspire me, have supported and more importantly really encouraged me. They taught me: believe in yourself, aim high and arm yourself with as much knowledge and skills as you can.”

Programme leader for MA Fine Art at the University of Sunderland, James Hutchinson, nominated Angela and Kathleen for the exhibition. He said: “The Atkinson Gallery exhibition is a snapshot of postgraduate excellence from 25 universities, and I am very pleased for Angela and Kath. It’s great to see recent Fine Art graduates from Sunderland exhibiting nationally.”

The MA & Other Postgraduates Exhibition 2018 showcases the work of the UK’s most exciting new postgraduate artists, and is at the Atkinson Gallery, in Somerset, from February 19 to March 17.