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Local college students have been putting their creative flair to good use by contributing to artwork commissions from national and local charities.

Newcastle College’s Creative Agency has produced large murals for the NSPCC and Road to Recovery Trust this year.

The agency, which has been running for almost 2 years, was set up to offer students on creative courses opportunities to undertake real-life industry briefs and gain valuable work experience whilst studying.  So far, around 160 students have benefitted from working on agency projects.

The NSPCC approached the agency for help to brighten up its reception area and make it more inviting for children coming through its doors.

A team of over 70 Art and Design students collaborated on the large scale design, using various textures and bright colours to create a calming and positive environment which would help encourage youngsters to open up about their feelings and experiences.

Cathy Galvin-Wilson, Children’s Services Practitioner at The NSPCC’s Newcastle Service Centre said:

“Our reception area is the first thing children and families see when they come to access our services, so it needs to be a welcoming and relaxing space while people wait for appointments.

“We have a nice building but the space was bare, so we contacted Newcastle College to see if they could help. We were hoping that the design department, the college’s young people and children who come to NSPCC, could come up with some great ideas to cheer up the space.

“They didn’t disappoint. The area is now bright, with interactive art works that appeal to all ages. We’ve had feedback from young people who have said they like the design, the use of colour and enjoy making their own mark on it with the chalks and playing with the noughts and crosses game.”

The latest commission, by the Road to Recovery Trust, has seen a giant mural installed at George Street Social, a charity café in the city centre which helps to provide a safe, alcohol free social space for people recovering from addictions.

The artwork, displayed in the entrance and on the staircase of the café, features colourful images of nature and the twelve steps of recovery, an important part of the work undertaken by the charity. It was put together by Amy Cooper, currently studying for her degree in Visual Communications.

Speaking about the project, Amy said: “The main thing the café wanted incorporated in the mural is the twelve steps of recovery and the arch symbol within that. I’ve used vines to represent that arch and then kept with the nature theme and flowers to show regrowth and regeneration; something fresh to represent a fresh start for the people who come here for that.

“I’ve really enjoyed working on the design and seeing it through to installation, it’s all been a new experience done through the Creative Agency and it’s been such a great experience.”

Mal Maclean, manager of George Street Social Café added: “We have a close relationship with Newcastle College through customers and work we have done in the past. The idea came to commission something that would brighten up the place and represent abstinence based treatment and recovery.

“We are absolutely delighted with the finished article, it’s much more colourful and descriptive than we could have imagined. It’s wonderful to see the effort Amy has put in, how much she’s thought about the brief and how well it represents what we’re trying to do here.”

Resource Co-ordinator Ged Cook, responsible for running the Creative Agency, says: “The agency is still a fairly new initiative within the College but it has already impacted a large number of students and given them some fantastic opportunities.

“We are not only providing students with valuable industry experience, we are also able to contribute to charities and community groups across the region which is fantastic. The NSPCC and George Street Social briefs have both seen real collaborative effort from students and its work they’ve really enjoyed. It’s fantastic to see it has made such a difference and I hope we can do more to support good causes going forward.”

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