Arts project maps out past and future with trio of events

Members of Blackhall Community Drama Group, left to right, Margaret
Smurthwaite, Linda Purdy, Barbara Old and Milly Tempest.
Members of Blackhall Community Drama Group, left to right, Margaret Smurthwaite, Linda Purdy, Barbara Old and Milly Tempest.

A storytelling celebration inspired three villages to look to the future as well as their past.

The three-day events were staged in Horden, Shotton Colliery and Blackhall as part of the Corners of Europe project, bringing in nine artists to work in their communities.

Bojan Mucko interviews people during the live radio broadcast. Picture by Richard Kenworthy.

Bojan Mucko interviews people during the live radio broadcast. Picture by Richard Kenworthy.

It was one of 21 Creative People and Places projects to be funded by Arts Council England, with the sessions organised by ISIS Arts in partnership with East Durham Creates.

Horden hosted Playground, which focused on games old and new and activities inside and out, with Horden Youth and Community Centre and Horden Hub House helping to host the groups.

In Shotton Colliery, the village held a Treasures of Shotton Family day, which followed in from ‘safari’ walks which told stories about hidden treasures and magic.

The final event was Mobile Radio: Stories of Blackhall, which finished with a live broadcast and Eurovision song night at Blackhall Community Centre.

A lot of firm friendships have been made and hopefully this project has acted as a catalyst to further creative activity with a difference in these wonderful villages.

Nikki Locke

Nikki Locke, head of East Durham Creates, said of the last session: “It was wonderful to hear so many memories, seeing people connect and have fun with each other – something which ran through all three Corners projects.

“I think the artists spending time in the areas and presenting events which showed places people are so used to in a different light has been both interesting and inspiring.

“A lot of firm friendships have been made and hopefully this project has acted as a catalyst to further creative activity with a difference in these wonderful villages.”

Blackhall Community Centre Manager Alison Paterson said the artists had been a pleasure to work with and the project one which had left a real legacy.

Artist Maria Anastassiou leads the way during a Shotton Safari. Picture by Richard Kenworthy.

Artist Maria Anastassiou leads the way during a Shotton Safari. Picture by Richard Kenworthy.

She added: “The radio broadcast was great fun and then the party was amazing, with all the artists from the three different project coming together and mingling with everyone here.

“The Corners project was proof that people who live countries in like Italy, Croatia, Poland and Serbia have the same sort of concerns, experiences and problems that we share here.

“I think the project will be a springboard for us here to be more creative and we can see what can be achieved. 
“So the legacy is an artistic one – they’ve shown us what is possible and what we can aspire to.

“I feel bereft now they’re all gone – it was like being on holiday and then coming home.”

The Corners of Europe project began in Stockholm in 2010, and since then has incorporated leading arts institutions across the Continent.

East Durham Creates aims to increase opportunities for residents of East Durham to get creative and involved in arts and culture.

Full details are available at www.eastdurhamcreates.co.uk.