Public art projects
Public art projects we have delivered include Hawthorn Wordworks – this resulted in a series of poetry-based sculptures created for the former Hawthorn Colliery and Cokeworks site. This was the culmination of a year-long residency led by poet Linda France in the two villages which flank the site: Murton and South Hetton in east Durham. Commissioned by One North East and supported by the District of Easington, the project was developed to encourage local communities to use the parkland on the site of the former colliery and cokeworks. Local people were encouraged by Linda to respond to the site, its industrial history, ecology, and landscape. The theme for the project was ‘the elements’: fire, air, earth and water, plus metal and wood. Sculptor William Pym was commissioned to design a series of sculptures which carried the text and reflected each element, to be sited throughout the parkland. Accompanied by Murton Colliery Brass Band, project participants, including primary school children, former miners and older people, as well as their families and the wider community, attended a celebratory event to mark the culmination of this ambitious project.
A sense of place was also the theme of the North Lodge Park project which New Writing North worked with Darlington Borough Council to develop and deliver. Poet Maureen Almond sensed a love for this park, which had seen better days. Darlington Borough Council had secured funds to regenerate the park and wanted to involve local people in this process with a poetry and public art project. Maureen, supported by the Friends of North Lodge Park, worked with local schools and community groups as well as park users to encourage them to write poetry about the park. Sculptor Andrew McKeown was commissioned to design sculptures which would carry the community’s text. He created a series of sculpted leaves which can be found throughout the park and which feature fragments of poetry written by the community. An anthology featuring poetry written by local people, called Our North Lodge Park, was also created to mark the culmination of the project. By the end of the project, Maureen had also fallen in love with the park; she wrote her own chap book, Tongues in Trees, which was produced as a memorial to the trees which were condemned during the period of her residency and to help raise fund for their replacements.
Darlington Borough Council had a very close working relationship with Bussey & Armstrong Homes, which developed the visionary Westpark, a new village and public park on the north west fringe of Darlington. Poetry was at the heart of this project, with poet Bill Herbert working closely with the builder to devise and develop a ‘poetry plan’ for the site. New Writing North developed an arts programme with five Darlington schools to encourage pupils to respond to the same starting points as Bill and create their own writing-based artworks. Novelists, filmmakers, radio producers, poets and glass artists worked with pupils to create a short horror film, a radio soap opera, a poetry anthology, and a new story, fragments of which were etched into the windows of Alderman Leach Primary School, a new school that formed part of the development.