The unseen beauty and hidden stories of Darlington will be the focus of a series of creative projects bringing together artists, budding photographers and local people of all ages.

Dover Prize winner for 2019, Bethan Maddocks an artist and story teller, will kick start work on her work in Darlington with a special talk – ‘Story collecting and paper cutting’ – at Crown Street Library’s gallery space on Saturday 18 May, from 1.15pm.

Bethan’s work explores social history and the stories of people and places. She creates large, interactive paper sculpture and works with communities to develop research on themes such as the Newcastle witch trials, the prehistoric forest of Northumberland and the north’s socialist history.

Over the next two years, through the Dover Prize bursary, she will explore Darlington’s history, architecture, archives and historical characters to make work embedded with tales of Darlington. The talk is an opportunity for local people, whatever their age, to hear about Bethan’s work and share their stories and highlight places of interest that Bethan can explore during her bursary.

The event is free but space is limited, so to secure your place please email Stephen.Wiper@darlington.gov.uk

Meanwhile, as the borough gears up for the seventh annual Darlington Arts Festival (17-20 May), Creative Darlington has joined forces with Lens Think to issue a call out for images of the ‘Unseen Beautiful’ in Darlington to be submitted through Instagram.

Images can be anything that celebrate Darlington’s ‘Unseen Beautiful’ – the beautiful surroundings and everyday things that you think showcase the area through a different perspective. To submit a photograph just use the hashtag #unseenbeautifuldarlo when you upload it to Instagram

The photographs will then be featured in a special pop up exhibition in Crown Street Art Gallery, alongside the work of photographer and Lens Think founder Joanne Coates, from Saturday 18 May until Wednesday 29 May as part of Darlington Arts Festival programme.

The Gallery will also play host to three collaborative image making workshops, with Joanne Coates and artist and graphic designer Nicola Golightly, looking at storytelling using images and words. This will give participants the chance to create their own story about Darlington.

Workshops will take place as follows:

Wednesday 22 May – 11am-2pm

Tuesday 28 May – 11am-2pm

Wednesday 29 May – 11am-3pm

All are free to attend and materials will be provided. Any children who wish to take part must be accompanies by an adult.

Visitors to the exhibition will then be invited to vote – both online and in the gallery – for their favourite photograph, with the winner announced on Wednesday 29 May, 5.30-6.30pm, as part of a celebration and closing event. The winner will be invited to take part in a one-day photography workshop let by Joanne Coates.

For more information about ‘Unseen Beautiful’ visit www.creativedarlington.org.uk and for details of this year’s Darlington Arts Festival visit www.darlingtonforculture.org/darlington-arts-festival-2019