Villages to tell their stories for major European arts project

Horden Welfare Park will host events
Horden Welfare Park will host events

East Durham villages have been chosen to be part of an internationally-acclaimed arts project.

Taking place from September 19-30, Corners of Europe uses stories to connect communities and artists from the edges of Europe with people in the UK.

Shotton Community Centre is taking part in Corners of Europe

Shotton Community Centre is taking part in Corners of Europe

Nine international artists are working with local groups to create striking artworks for public spaces.

It’s a spin-off from the original project in Stockholm in 2010, which has gone on to incorporate other leading arts institutions across Europe.

Sharon Bailey, executive co-director of ISIS Arts, who are delivering the project in partnership with East Durham Creates, said: “Horden, Shotton, and Blackhall will each host a project - an alternative guided tourist trail around Shotton; an installation of games from across Europe in Horden and a mapping and archive storytelling project that uses online radio to share gathered stories in Blackhall.

“Each project includes free workshops and events providing excellent opportunities for volunteering and work shadowing where local residents of all ages can develop skills while celebrating their respective local areas.”

A previous Safari arts event in Belgrade

A previous Safari arts event in Belgrade

Local artists have been working in each of the three areas with residents on special projects that culminate in public events as part of a festival at the end of this month.

The collected stories shared in East Durham will then become part of the wider Corners of Europe project.

Sharon explained: “The stories shared and what is created are passed on and told in another town or city on the edges of Europe. These shared stories are not only meaningful, but also have the power to connect countries as well as people.

“In 2015, artists from The Basque Country, Italy, Slovenia, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Croatia, Poland, Serbia, Kosovo and the UK visited places across the Corners of Europe to meet local people and exchange stories. These stories and experiences resulted in a series of new projects, which engage the local community and will also be shared in public places across East Durham.

A previous safari event

A previous safari event

“Corners shows that we all share similar hopes, issues and dreams; from politics to social welfare, financial worries to getting the chance to be creative.”

BlackHall Community Centre manager Alison Paterson is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the artists.

She said: “We’re just so excited. We’ve said the project is going to be a cross between the Eurovision and X-Factor and the weekend will be one long party.

“A couple of the artists came here last year to introduce themselves and enjoyed a bit of line dancing so we know they’re going to be fun to work with and we just can’t wait to get started.”

Head of East Durham Creates, Nikki Locke, added: “We’re delighted to be working with ISIS Arts to bring Corners of Europe, a very special arts project which connects communities and artists from across Europe.

“We’ll be working closely with people across East Durham to look at where they live through a different lens – celebrating positive stories about Horden, Shotton, Blackhall and the surrounding area. The project is such a fantastic way of celebrating who we are and where we live.

“The intergenerational nature of the project means that it will acknowledge the past through remembering games, stories, characters and places, but it will also be very much situated in the present while looking ahead to the future.”

Corners of Europe highlights

• In Horden visitors will be able to part in public workshops on Friday, September 22 and join in with playground games tournaments. On Friday, September 29 and Saturday 30, Horden Welfare Park and Horden Youth and Community Centre will be the site of a trail of games, where people can join in and play, including the beginnings of a new Horden game.

• Events in Blackhall will include public workshops, a Corners tea party, an online radio broadcast– and a Eurovision Party on Saturday, September 30.

Mobile Radio: Stories of Blackhall will be a collaboration between artists Julie Myers (UK), Bojan Mucko (Croatia) and Lucyna Kolendo (Poland) and local people.

• Shotton Colliery is hosting Safari Here: Treasures of Shotton, which will reveal and celebrate stories of everyday life of Shotton through an alternative guided walking tour of the village. Local residents will become tour guides to illuminate things that are important and precious to them.