Arts event in East Durham hoping to build on tradition

Peterlee ARt Fest organisers Adam Duncanson, David Orton, Alan Sill, Josh Dalton, Bill Harris and Joyce McCallum, appealing to local artists to exhibit their work in town centre empty shops.
Peterlee ARt Fest organisers Adam Duncanson, David Orton, Alan Sill, Josh Dalton, Bill Harris and Joyce McCallum, appealing to local artists to exhibit their work in town centre empty shops.

A town has a showcase of creativity in store as it champions artwork.

The Why Art Man? Festival is using empty shops in Peterlee town centre to inspire people from across East Durham.

We hope to build on a long tradition of artist involvement within the East Durham area, such as Victor Pasmore and the Apollo Pavilion and more recently the Tommy sculpture in Seaham.

Alan Sill

Displays have been installed in vacant shops within the Castle Dene Shopping Centre, for a week-long run.

The celebration has been organised by Now East Durham in association with the Mad Natters art group, with a host of different mediums used by the 34 artists behind the pieces on show.

They include paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics and glass, as well as sections of music, with students from the Academy at Shotton Hall also contributing.

Alan Sill, who edits online magazine Now East Durham, said: “We hope to build on a long tradition of artist involvement within the East Durham area, such as Victor Pasmore and the Apollo Pavilion, and more recently the Tommy sculpture in Seaham.

“Within the week-long events we are asking the question, simply ‘why art?’, hopefully we will get some answers that are relevant to the area.

“With so much bad news around I feel that East Durham needs to become a ‘new East Durham’, and engagement with art could be the gateway for this change.”

Bill Harris, who has jointly organised the event, said: “The festival will provide a key opportunity to enhance the cultural and economic well-being of the area.”

Now East Durham, which is based in Lee House, is also working to help 18 to 24-year-olds searching for work, with more than 80 job seekers supported so far through skills and personal development.