Neon artists help young people light up community centre

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 January 15.

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, January 7, until Sunday, January 15, 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, January 13, 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.

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