North East Connected

Creative projects unveil importance of coastal heritage

As world leaders make their climate pledges during COP26, the University of Sunderland unveils it’s part in a project fostering deeper connections with the environmental, cultural and industrial coastal heritage of the region thanks to a multi-million-pound cash investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

SeaScapes is a four-year marine heritage project worth £5m, including investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and benefitting communities in South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Hartlepool.

Just as the COP 26 focuses on climate commitments for the future, SeaScapes looks at the critical effort needed both above and below the sea to unite people and planet and protect what’s important across our communities.

Led by Durham County Council, the project consists of partners including the University of Sunderland, united in their mission to increase protection of our sea and coastline.

Of the 23 projects being delivered, the University is leading SeaScapes Co/Lab, a two year programme looking at how we can connect with our world and develop sustainable ways to protect and care for our marine environment through art and creativity, led by Dr Suzy O’Hara a digital art curator and researcher.

The programme kicked off with four multi-sensory projects developed through the first Sea AIR (Artists in Residence) programme that focuses on the sounds and natural marine heritage of the sea and coast.

Suzy says: “This programme is an open invitation for coastal communities across the North East to take up values of care, generosity and sharing, and find new multi-sensory ways of engaging with ancient wisdom and beauty of the marine ecology in exchange for its resurgence and all our future.”

She added: “This is also a fantastic opportunity for creative engagement between the University’s Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries (FACI), working with coastal communities and project partners.”

Sea AIR has brought together four partners from across the SeaScapes consortium, including National Trust, Durham Wildlife Trust, Tees Archaeology and academic expertise with Durham University’s geology faculty, to work in collaboration with creative, academic expertise from within University of Sunderland’s FACI (Sustainable Fashion, Music, Screen Performance and Radio) and multi-disciplinary artists from across the region. Each of the four Sea AIR collaborations are working with a local community based in either North Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Hartlepool throughout the autumn to explore the richness and diversity of our natural marine heritage through sound, dance, deep listening and performance.

The Sea AIR are:

Their final original dance performance entitled Blue Wave took place on Roker beach on 27 October 2021 at 2pm.

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