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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


ByDave Stopher

Aug 23, 2023

A POPULAR art project has returned to Sunderland for the third time – with an added bonus for eagle-eyed visitors to spot.

A number of unique art benches have become a popular city centre attraction over the last few years, re-painted each summer with new artwork created by

more than 200 artists aged from four-years-old right up to 84.

The art benches were launched by Sunderland BID, who commissioned Kerry Cook of The Art Room, Sunderland to come up with the themes and then lead on the actual creation of the art.

And Kerry revealed that this time round there’s an additional surprise – a ladybird hidden in each of the paintings.

Kerry said a host of new artists was involved, alongside regulars who have come back each year to get involved.

“It really has become an event that goes into families’ calendars each year,” she said.

“This project provides families with an opportunity to be creative, laugh, learn and chat to one another. It is a real confidence boost for children and adults alike and instils a sense of community pride when they see their artwork around the city centre.

“I know this by the way everyone refers to ‘my bench’. They get the chance to take complete ownership of that piece of art. It offers a real feeling of accomplishment and quality time together and I hope we do it for years and years to come.”

It was Kerry’s nine-year-old niece, Emily, who came up with the idea of adding in the hidden ladybirds to each of the pictures, giving youngsters the opportunity to go and find them.

The new benches feature everything from colourful butterflies to children jumping into puddles in colourful wellies, as well as one with a giant umbrella.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID said that Kerry and all the artists had once again created a real talking point in the city.

“The benches are a great place for people to sit down and have a rest but also provide a fantastic Instagrammable backdrop,” she said.

“Now that there’s also the added element of finding the ladybirds, it makes visiting them a really fun, free activity for parents and youngsters to take part in over the summer.

“They certainly brighten up the streets and make them look really attractive, hopefully creating a sense of pride in the city which is a really important priority for the BID.”

For information on all of the activities organised by Sunderland BID over the summer visit www.sunderlandbid.co.uk