European arts project in CORNERS of East Durham

An internationally-acclaimed arts project is coming to East Durham later this month. 

Corners of Europe uses stories to connect communities and artists from the edges of Europe with local people in the UK. The project began in Stockholm in 2010, and since then, has incorporated other leading arts institutions across the Continent, delivering a project to South East Northumberland last year.


Delivered by ISIS Arts, a Newcastle based, internationally respected arts company, in partnership with East Durham Creates, the project will offer opportunities for residents of Horden, Shotton and Blackhall to get involved in arts projects with a difference.


Sharon Bailey, Executive Co-Director of ISIS Arts explained how the project will work: “Nine international artists will work closely with local groups to develop three artworks for public spaces in East Durham.


“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.”


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.


“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.


“So far, it has travelled to Croatia, England, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden and we’re delighted to announce it will be taking place in Shotton, Horden and Blackhall from September 19-30 as part of East Durham’s Corners event.”


Several well-attended Corners of Europe workshops have already been held at Shotton Community Centre.


“They’ve been brilliant – we’ve had sessions for older people and we’ve had a youth session too,” explained centre manager Denise Brooks. “Younger people at the youth session did silk paintings, while the older youths enjoyed a ceramic workshop.


“The sessions were hosted by two local artists under the supervision of Sharon from ISIS Arts, and have been thoroughly enjoyed.


“They were all a bit nervous at first, but you could see them growing in confidence and they all came to life during the sessions.”


Meanwhile, BlackHall Community Centre Manager Alison Paterson is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the artists: “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.”


East Durham Creates aims to increase opportunities for residents of East Durham to get creative and involved in arts and culture. It was first established in 2014 and has already engaged more than 22,000 people in a range of events and activities.


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