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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

MA Consumption Culture and Marketing student reflects on volunteering at an art exhibition

The MA Marketing and MA Consumption Culture and Marketing students have finished their classes and are now busy working on their dissertations. People are enjoying the sunshine and the weather is perfect for picnics in Windsor Great Park. This is also a time of year where students spend time with the friends they have made and reflect on the year they have spent at Royal Holloway. Often, memorable experiences come not only from the lectures and class discussions, but also extra-curricular activities and field trips.

Yuanqianqian Yuan (Chaine) is a current student on the MA Consumption, Culture and Marketing. Below she reports on volunteering to help at an exhibition showing art work from an arts based research project in a women’s refuge.

'On an ordinary day in my daily life, I received an invitation to an art exhibition called “Displaced” held by Royal Holloway in collaboration with Solace Women’s Aid. Out of curiosity and interest, I applied to be the volunteer at the exhibition. At that moment, I did not realize it would be a significant experience in my life.

The exhibition on 1st and 2nd November was part of a research project conducted in a woman’s refuge during summer 2016 by Dr Vicki Harman, Dr Benedetta Cappellini, Dr Susana Campos and other team members from Solace Women’s Aid. The project focused on the role of women’s possessions when they were rebuilding social identities after domestic abuse. A group of participants produced artwork to reflect objects: loved objects, lost objects, wanted objects and hated objects. Furthermore, they also created portraits of each other and partial self-portraits for a composite piece. The emerging artwork offers a powerful commentary on the role of possessions in the lives of women who experienced domestic violence.

The exhibition displayed in Bedford Square and Founder’s building lasted for two days. During the period, many professors and students from different majors came to visit and communicate with each other on their perspectives of women’s status, domestic violence, equality, feminism etc. Beyond that, they also took part in a public activity replicating the composite self-portraits’ piece. Susana (the artist) and I talked about women all over the world who are subjected to different forms of violence. Many are disrespected, but more terribly, plenty of women do not realize they are victims, or that they are harmed by this phenomenon. We also talked about the disadvantaged position resulting from escaping domestic violence and the fact that victims take few possessions with them. I was extremely excited to find that more and more individuals are drawing attention to this issue and are committed to promote equality between men and women. As a volunteer, I was so proud that I participated in the exhibition, appreciated impressive artwork, exchanged and acquired different values from groups of people'. 

Dr Benedetta Cappellini will present a paper based on this research at the Consumer Culture Theory Conference 2017 9-12th July 2017.

More information about the project can be found at:

You can read more about the MA Consumption, Culture and Marketing at: