The creativity of the Sunderland ward of Southwick is being celebrated in November as part of the national Being Human Festival. Austin House Family Centre will transform for a week into a pop up art gallery with an exhibition and series of events called ‘Southwick Lost and Found’. The events celebrate the artistic and cultural life of Southwick.

The week of events has been organised by the project Putting Southwick on the Map, a University of Sunderland research project working since 2015 with community partners and local people in Southwick.

Earlier this year the group launched the Southwick Culture Map. This digital map portrays Southwick’s cultural life past and present, in words, pictures and sound from the perspective of its people.  It shows cultural activities ranging from Juvenile Jazz Bands and cinema-going at the Savoy to the Catch the Light Lantern Parade and Summer Streets Festival. The exhibition will give people a chance to explore the map.

There will also be an exhibition of paintings by the artist and Southwick resident the late Derek Copeland, including paintings of the shipyard where he worked as well as aspects of everyday life such as allotments and greenhouses. Derek’s paintings were rediscovered as part of the project and this is a unique chance to see his evocative portrayals of Southwick.

In addition the exhibition will include collages made by local people working with Lyn Killeen, a visual artist and community researcher with the Putting Southwick on the Map project. Lyn, who is curating the exhibition, said:  “As part of the project I facilitated a visual arts project where participants explored imagery and tried out new artistic techniques to reflect their connections with Southwick and every day life past, present and future. Unique individual collages were created in layers of imagery to portray these special memories and aspirations. I am delighted to see these wonderful collages being exhibited in Southwick”.

There will be opportunities for people to try out similar techniques in workshops with Lyn, and paint their own glass candle holder.  There will also be a workshop with the research team giving a chance to find out more about how the map was researched and made.

The week will culminate in a community carol service at Holy Trinity Church in Southwick.

The Putting Southwick on the Map project began in 2015 and brings together University of Sunderland researchers with local people and community groups who have acted as community researchers to investigate the cultural life of Southwick. The group meets on Fridays, 2-4pm at Austin House Family Centre and is open to anyone with a connection to Southwick and an interest in researching and promoting the culture of Southwick. We invite anyone interested to come along and meet us.

The project is led by Dr Caroline Mitchell and Professor Trish Winter of the University of Sunderland.  Trish said: “We are delighted that the Being Human Festival has recognised the significance of our research into the cultural life of Southwick. This research, done by local people with support from the University, has revealed some of the hidden creativity and artistry that people practice in their everyday lives.  It deserves to be celebrated, and this exhibition gives us a chance to do just that.”

Caroline added: ““With the huge amount of interest in arts and culture in Sunderland at the moment, it’s great to have this temporary exhibition space in Southwick with such high quality artworks from Southwick residents.  The Putting Southwick on the Map group are very happy to be mounting this exhibition and welcoming people to this community gallery.”

Monday 20 November: 4 – 7pm exhibition launch attended by the Mayor of Sunderland. Free.

Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 November: 10am – 4pm Exhibition open, Free.

Tuesday 21 November: 10am and 2pm, visual art Workshops with Lyn Killeen. Free, places are limited, booking required – contact Austin House.

Friday 24 November: 10am-12pm, Research Workshop – find out more about the methods used by the research project including participatory cultural mapping, attendees can try them out for themselves, no previous experience required Free, places are limited, booking required – contact Being Human

Friday 24 November: 5.30pm Carol Service, Holy Trinity Church, Southwick. All welcome.

More details for the University of Sunderland website https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/events/event/putting-southwick-on-the-map-286

The Being Human Festival: Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world.  The theme for the Festival in 2017 is ‘Lost and Found’.

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