The former club of legendary England Test cricketer Sir Ian Botham will be immortalised in glass thanks to a unique collaboration between North-East schoolchildren and residents.
For Durham County Cricket Club’s Emirates Riverside ground will be among the landmarks to feature in a series of glass “postcards of the past”.
The £6,000 artwork of ten A4 sized “postcards” is being created by children from Cestria Primary School in Chester-le-Street, Durham.
They’ve been working with residents at The Elms, the new £6.5m Extra Care scheme built by local housing association Cestria Community Housing, listening to and interpreting their memories and thoughts of the area and what it means to them.
Among the anecdotes have been tales of the cricket club where Botham – arguably England’s greatest ever all-rounder – played his final season of first class cricket, and where the likes of outstanding bowler turned commentator, Simon Hughes, and Durham director of cricket, Geoff Cook, who coached the club to its first major title at Lords in 2007, once dominated the game.
They were also regaled with memories of other local landmarks – among them the popular BonBons sweet shop, on Chester-le-Street’s Front Street, beloved by young and old alike, where you can still buy sweets “by the quarter” (250g) out of old fashioned jars.
And they’ve drawn on their own impressions of nearby Lumley Castle, the imposing Chester Burn viaduct which dominates Chester-le-Street market place, their school and, of course, The Elms, to create their designs for the “postcards”.
Cestria localism officer Lewis Rimington said: “The residents have been telling the children what they remember about the town and its shops from when they were young, and one resident, a keen cricket fan, has been talking about going down to the Riverside to watch the matches.
“It’s really caught the children’s imagination and they’ve started to draw their designs featuring these landmarks and others.”
Once the final designs have been chosen, both the pupils and residents will get the chance to visit Newcastle artist Sue Woolhouse at her workshop in the Ouseburn Valley, where they will help recreate the images in glass.
Sue, a former freelance lecturer at Sunderland University, trained at the Royal College of Art in London and now specialises in designing and fabricating architectural glass.
Under her guidance the children and residents will use squares of fusing glass to build up the layers of different colour they want in each “postcard”. This will then be fired and their designs – which will be converted into “decals” or glass transfers – overlaid on top.
As a memento of their visit they’ll also get the chance to create their own glass coaster, as well as write and post a traditional postcard of their own to a friend or family member.
Sue said: “The children will help select the final designs and colours as well as having the experience of actually being in an artist’s studio – seeing what machinery I use and how it works.
“We also thought that, since no-one seems to send proper postcards any more, it would be a good idea to encourage the children to write their own postcard.
The finished glass postcards, which will be about 18mm thick, will be mounted in a wooden carving by local sculptor Neil Canavan, who creates both public and private commissions, often using objets trouvés, such as slate and driftwood, in his pieces.
It is hoped to unveil the completed artwork at The Elms later this year.
Lewis added: “This is a great project; the children in particular have been fantastic – great to work with.
“It’s been a true intergenerational project, with the youngsters mixing well with the residents. We couldn’t have asked for a better school to work with.”