Young people from Seaham have been learning how to make neon-themed artworks with two artists who have previously made artworks for Lumiere Durham, Sunderland Illuminations and other large scale events across the country.
Stuart Langley and Mick Stephenson, who specialise in creating artwork using light, have been running a series of workshops, teaching young people at Dawdon Youth and Community Centre how to make their own illuminated art.
A selection of the young people’s work will go on show alongside Stuart and Mick’s own sculptures in a free exhibition called Neon and That, on show at the Community Centre from 7 January to 15 January.
Joanne Bowen, Youth and Play Development Manager from Dawdon Youth and Community Centre, said: “The experience has been fabulous and it’s really given a boost to the young people’s confidence and self-esteem. Through the workshops with Stuart and Mick they’ve been able to use art to express themselves and I know everyone is looking forward to seeing the exhibition.”
Approximately 80 young people, aged from 7 to 19 years, have taken part in the project, which has been led by East Durham Creates, working in partnership with Dawdon Youth and Community Centre.
One of the people who took part in the workshops is Adam Richardson, aged 19 from Dawdon. Adam said: “I participated and I encouraged others to get involved too. It made me feel more confident and the sessions were very relaxed and not pressured. It’ll be very nice to have our work displayed and it’s good to have friends and family be able to see our artwork on show.”
The Neon and That exhibition will be on show at the community centre from Saturday 7 January until Sunday 15 January and is free to visit. Work on show will include Stuart Langley’s hand crafted neon planet, made using sea glass from Seaham, and a dramatic sculpture by Mick Stephenson, made using plastic bottles and coloured light.
Artist Stuart Langley said: “It’s been a pleasure working with the people of Dawdon to create what will be an exciting collaborative exhibition and event. Light really does have the power to change the way we see our everyday and I’m confident our activities will help brighten the way through some gloomy January days.”
Jo Bowen added: “There’s no way we could have done this without the support of East Durham Creates. It’s been brilliant to work together and we definitely want to do more art projects in the future – art really has no boundaries.”
On Friday 13 January there will be a free event from 4-9pm, including neon performances, art activities, a chance to see the exhibition and to meet the artists. Everyone is welcome to attend.
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.
Full details are available at www.eastdurhamcreates.co.uk.
Stuart is an artist and designer working with colour, light, neon and waste. He created Stained Glass Cars as part of the Lumiere Durham BRILLIANT programme in 2013 and, due in large part to the exposure gained through the scheme, has gone on to exhibit artworks at ilight Marina Bay Singapore, Nuit Blanche Brussels and illuminating York amongst others. A successful Arts Council England grant application this year has allowed him to develop as a neon artist and mix this fascinating medium with a range of materials including sea glass, stained glass and video tape. Stuart created ‘wave’ for Lumiere Durham 2013 which involved collecting over half a ton of sea glass from beaches local to Seaham to turn into a giant 3 metre light sculpture which celebrates the industrial past and community spirit of the local area. www.Stuartlangley.co.uk
Mick is renowned for creating large scale installations fusing light, material and structure to welcome audiences into extraordinary worlds of colour. His first art commission from Artichoke for Lumiere Durham 2011 allowed him to combine a wealth of design, build and technical experience learnt from years of work in the building and music industry with an artistic vision capable of beautifying waste with light. An alliance with the international charity Litre of Light in 2013 saw Mick showcase the artistic potential of the humble plastic bottle, then again in 2015 to recreate the iconic rose window in the Cathedral cloisters as a testament to his enduring ambition to master material and light for Lumiere Durham.
Such showcases of creative flair and technical ability have allowed Mick to carve out a career as a full time artist with stand-out works for Enchanted Parks, Kendal Calling, Sunderland Illuminations, Illuminate Cambridge, Lumiere London and Staithes Festival to name a few. www.mickstephenson.net
East Durham Creates is an Arts Council England-supported project, working across the East Durham area and aiming to get more people involved in arts and creative activity. We are working with residents to deliver an ambitious arts programme – every element of which will be community-led in some way, and totally distinctive to the area – inspired by East Durham the place and by the people who live there.
East Durham Creates will offer new experiences to inspire and delight. It will build on and support the vibrant existing arts activity in the area, and develop skills through the arts, helping to bring about long-term, lasting change.
The East Durham Creates team are collaborating with groups and residents to explore what the arts and creativity can offer local communities, testing out lots of different approaches to see what works (and what doesn’t) – and doing all we can to help sustain activity beyond our Arts Council England grant.
East Durham Creates is one of 21 Creative People and Places projects nationally, funded by Arts Council England. It is managed by Beamish, Forma Arts, and East Durham Trust working in partnership and supported by Durham County Council via East Durham Area Action Partnership and Culture and Sport Services. www.eastdurhamcreates.co.uk
East Durham Creates is part of the Creative People and Places programme, initiated and funded by Arts Council England. Creative People and Places is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in art experiences in the places where they live. There are 21 independent projects, each located in an area where people have traditionally had fewer opportunities to get involved with the arts. Creative People and Places projects have reached over 1.2 million people, 90% of whom do not regularly engage in the arts. www.creativepeopleplaces.org.uk
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk