Earlier this year, River Tees Rediscovered invited artists of all disciplines to submit applications to develop a new piece of work exploring the notion of ‘community’, inspired by the vanished houseboat community of Greatham Creek.
After careful consideration of a large number of high quality applications encompassing theatre, photography, film, mosaic and many more; the successful application was boat- house-theatre from artists Tom Adams and Dan Scott.
Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at ARC, said:
“The opportunity to work at Greatham Creek was widely advertised and we had so many brilliant ideas submitted by artists, but boat-house-theatre stood out for all of us. We loved the ambition of the piece and how the artists planned to gather local stories, and make that gathering process part of the final artwork. It felt like the project would be an opportunity to build a new community in itself, a fitting tribute to a community that is no longer there.”
Although the dates of installation and opening are still to be confirmed, boat-house- theatre will be a replica house boat situated on Stockton High Street that will function as both a site of remembrance to a lost community and as a venue for a two day micro- festival featuring theatre, film, and other events that the public will be invited to engage with.
Tom and Dan have already spent time in the area researching Greatham Creek and engaging with people who spent time there or have memories of the community there. Currently sourcing a suitable boat to adapt, they are looking forward to exhibiting their work and engaging with the people of Stockton and further afield.
Dan Scott said:
“We’re very excited to be working with ARC and River Tees Rediscovered on boat- house-theatre. We’re hugely excited to bring the story of the Greatham Creek houseboat community to the centre of Stockton-on-Tees. We want boat-house-theatre to be a vessel for sharing, listening, storytelling, and imagining. We have our own story to tell, but it will be one of many about the past, present and future of Teesside. We are visitors here, bringing our boat, and we’re looking forward to inviting everyone on board.”
Greatham Creek is a tidal creek between Stockton and Hartlepool, and one of the last remaining large saltmarsh areas in Teesmouth. For around a century, it was a popular destination for families across the region who would set up temporary homes in houseboats and cabins along the river where they fished for salmon during the summer months.
Many of the houseboats and cabins remained there until the 1980s until they fell into disrepair and the community vanished.
Artists were required to use Greatham Creek as a starting point to explore who or what made it a community, what happened when it disappeared and how that informs our idea of community today.
River Tees Rediscovered received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and boat-house-theatre has been made possible by funding raised by National Lottery players.
Lucy Chapman, Partnership Manager at Groundwork NE, said: “We’re delighted to launch such an exciting project exploring the unique heritage of Greatham Creek and engaging local communities with the River Tees through art.”