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GSD student holds art exhibition to raise awareness of gender based violence

Students walking around campus

Congratulations to Maddie Booth, one of our final year Politics, International Studies and GSD students, for putting together an art exhibition throughout March to address the important issue of gender based violence (GBV).

Maddie recently held a three-week-long art exhibition titled "Stand Up, Stand Back, Stand With" as part of the work for her dissertation. The exhibition, which launched at the Arts Trail Gallery in Leamington Spa, aimed to raise awareness of domestic violence and raise funds for three charities who support survivors: Coventry Haven, RSVP and The Survivors Trust. The issue of GBV was showcased through over 70 pieces of various media, and the majority of the pieces featured were solely commissioned for this exhibition. There were 35 artists involved from the UK and beyond, some being victims themselves. Maddie has raised £763.18 in total for the three charities from a silent auction at the exhibition and donations.

We spoke to Maddie about her exhibition.

Why did you want to put together an art exhibition in the first place?

"When you think of your final year you may think of the 8,000 word dissertation. Well for me, I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in front of a laptop screen for any longer than I already am with other deadlines. I wanted to 'do' something. Three words came to mind when I was thinking about what I want to do: 'community', 'impact' and 'legacy'. And luckily enough, the GSD Department offers the chance for students to do a 'creative submission' instead of the long thesis. The launch of the exhibition was the dissemination event for my dissertation.

"The idea to do an art exhibition for my creative submission for my dissertation came from when I was studying abroad at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia as part of my second year. The art scene out there was incredible and it was difficult not to get inspired by some of the galleries and murals. I attended an exhibition entitled ‘love’, a collaboration of stories and voices of people's lives made into art. This was the only exhibition I had attended where I really felt connected to all the artists themselves, and this is something I wanted to recreate."

What were your intentions when creating the 'Stand Up, Stand Back, Stand With' exhibition?

"Throughout this project I have been looking into how artistic expression can provide a platform for the discussion of GBV in the UK. In providing a different platform for conversation we can together reduce the taboo of this topic in society. The current silence around the issue is stark, terrifying and lonely. And violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. Reducing GBV helps drive progress across the Sustainable Development Goals. It improves the health of women and children and the wellbeing of families. It reduces risks to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, improves economic productivity and educational attainment, and reduces the risk of mental illness and substance abuse, among other benefits.

"The goal is to work from the local level up. The local level is immensely important for efforts to reduce GBV and achieve related outcomes, although it is often overlooked in policy and resource allocations to address violence. Through art we are not only engaging survivors but the wider public - of all ages, races and genders. Everyone can relate and have an opinion of art. Through art we are together providing a platform for voices, to empower, to strengthen, to validate and to raise awareness."

What are your plans for the future of the exhibition?

"I will be looking at creating a ‘roadshow’ version of this exhibition, getting new pieces at each stop-off location."

Visitors looking at the pieces of artwork at the exhibitionPiece of artwork created by Maddie Booth titled 'Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil'Artwork by Hannah Booth, titled 'Little child', featuring a young girl whose 'innocence is lost, her face is sunken and filled with tears'Visitors looking at pieces of art at the exhibitionVisitors looking at pieces of art at the exhibitionVisitors looking at pieces of art at the exhibitionArtwork by GSD student Brian Muraya, titled 'Collective Silence'. Artwork by Julie Saumagne, GSD student. The piece shows a woman in the shower, with her back showing. It looks like we're looking at the woman through a crack in the door.

Bottom left image: Photography/installation titled 'Collective Silence' by Brian Muraya, second year single honours GSD student. 

Bottom right image: Artwork by Julie Saumagne, final year PAIS and GSD student.