An internationally acclaimed arts project culminated in three days of events and activities across three East Durham villages.
Corners of Europe involved nine European artists working with communities in Horden, Shotton and Blackhall and was delivered by ISIS Arts in partnership with East Durham Creates, one of 21 independent Creative People and Places projects funded by Arts Council England.
Individual projects in each of the villages came to a climax last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Sharon Bailey, Executive Co-Director of ISIS Arts, explained: “Each of our three villages were busy completing their specific projects.
“In Horden our artists Simon Farid, Riccardo Spagnulo and Gianfranco Mirizzi completed a Playground project, which looked at games old and new, and involved playing and sharing games in tournaments. We had our inflatable play venue in Welfare Park, while indoor games – some of which were created as part of the project – were being played in Horden Youth and Community Centre and Horden Hub House.
“Meanwhile in Shotton on Saturday we hosted a ‘Treasures of Shotton Family Day’ with our artists Maria Anastassiou, Isabella Mongelli and Milos Tomic. The family day came after our Shotton safaris which were a gentle walking tour through the village in which we revealed hidden treasures and magical stories.
“Our last project, Mobile Radio: Stories of Blackhall, finished with a live radio broadcast and a Eurovision song night last Saturday in Blackhall Community Centre. Croatian artist Bojan Mucko hosted the live broadcast, with the help of fellow artists Julie Myers and Lucyna Kolendo.”
Nikki Locke, Head of East Durham Creates, added: “There were more than 60 people for the final event, an hour-long live broadcast, and during the hour Bojan took the microphone round the tables and asked for stories from past, present and hopes for the future. This included people’s experiences of what it was like during mining times, conversations around the opportunities available for young people now and the work over many years of the Blackhall Community Drama Group.
“It was wonderful to hear so many memories, seeing people connect and have fun with each other – something which ran through all three Corners projects. I think the artists spending time in the areas and presenting events which showed places people are so used to in a different light has been both interesting and inspiring. A lot of firm friendships have been made and hopefully this project has acted as a catalyst to further creative activity (with a difference) in these wonderful villages.”
Blackhall Community Centre Manager Alison Paterson said the artists had been a pleasure to work with and the project one which had left a real legacy: “We had a tremendous night last Saturday, and Bojan and Lucyna did an amazing job. The radio broadcast was great fun and then the party was amazing, with all the artists from the three different project coming together and mingling with everyone here.
“The Corners project was proof that people who live countries in like Italy, Croatia, Poland and Serbia have the same sort of concerns, experiences and problems that we share here.
“I think the project will be a springboard for us here to be more creative and we can see what can be achieved. So the legacy is an artistic one – they’ve shown us what is possible and what we can aspire to. I feel bereft now they’re all gone – it was like being on holiday and then coming home.”
The Corners of Europe project began in Stockholm in 2010, and since then has incorporated leading arts institutions across the Continent, using stories to connect communities and artists from the edges of Europe with local people in the UK
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 27,500 people in a range of events and activities.