Two environmental Artists-in-Residence have been announced to work with residents in the East and West End of Newcastle. Creative endeavours represent further evidence of how Newcastle City Council is helping people demonstrate environmental pride in the place where they live.
The initiative is part of the third successful year of the Council’s Artist-in-Residence programme.
Artist Karen Underhill will work across Arthur’s Hill and North Benwell Terraces; and photographer Jonathan Bradley in Byker Old Town. The community-based and community-owned projects will come up with fun and imaginative ways of illustrating just how many items in people’s day-to-day lives can be recycled – more things than ever before. It will also show people what they can do to address local priorities like keeping back lanes tidy and litter-free. Another important element is to encourage residents to come together to talk about the places in which they live and work.
It is envisaged the artist residencies will initiate connection across the generations and between local groups engaging a large number of residents, landlords and businesses – with the environment taking centre stage.
The innovative art and digital arts projects are being made possible by European Union funding secured by Newcastle City Council and delivered by the Co-operative Communities Service. It is part of the ‘Global Action in Awareness’ programme where Newcastle’s partners include Malmö (Sweden), Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Nieuwegein (the Netherlands).
Each city is devising joint research to be delivered in many different local communities [including the artist residencies] with key objectives being to tackle inequalities and communicate the message about conserving the planet’s resources for future generations.
Councillor Nick Kemp, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and regulatory services for Newcastle City Council, said: “It’s heartening to know that so many people across Newcastle will benefit from these artist-led residencies; not only learning and putting into practice new skills but also getting the opportunity to communicate their thoughts about where they live in ways they hadn’t imagined before.
“These projects will also give local people the opportunity to experience a sense of confidence, belonging and ownership of their community. Our artists build on a relationship we already have with over sixty community organisations, who are actively involved in community litter-picks and a range of environmental pride projects.”
Councillor Kemp concluded: “It’s important that communities get the chance to have their voices heard. As a Core City, we already share our experiences across the UK. Through this initiative, Newcastle’s voice will be listened to on a European stage. The use of creativity can open so many different doors and be a great opportunity to communicate environmental messages in a simple and effective way; and to hit home the importance of respecting and keeping our communities tidy.”
Self-employed artist Karen Underhill, aged 46, is originally from the Scottish Borders. She moved to the region over two decades ago to study Fine Arts. Karen is also trained in media studies, multi-media and street theatre and has been a lecturer at Gateshead College for the past 15 years. Karen said: “I would like to bring people together from both sides of the West Road to collaborate and share ideas.
“I have already begun to meet and engage with residents to gather rich personal stories and help them gain and develop creative skills that will have a lasting impact. The West End is a vibrant part of the city and something that is exciting for me is seeing and bringing together artistic traditions, music and dance from across the world.”
Practical workshops and project work will see the people of Arthur’s Hill and North Benwell Terraces try their hand at a selection of digital techniques, using equipment like their own mobile phones.
Karen added: “The local authority has provided artists and communities with a valuable opportunity to work together in partnership. I am really looking forward to the experience of fostering some great connections with people and busy community groups in the area; and by placing an artist into a community it will give another perspective to explore some quite serious environmental themes.”
The other focus is Byker Old Town situated near Welbeck Road. A partnership led by local people is already working in Byker to bring further investment and improve the local environment. The artist-in-residence will help to facilitate the design and development of new solutions owned by local residents after their creative engagement.
Jonathan Bradley, aged 39, has been a professional photographer in the North East for the past ten years. Jonathan says the work produced during the residency which is entitled “People : Space” will be part of a photographic series asking the questions “…how does this space make you feel” and “why do you think that is?” Jonathan said: “The project will reflect how people interact with the space around them – where they live, walk, sleep and shop.”
The pictures taken for People : Space will be generated using a variety of different cameras from digital through to film – very much using photographs taken by local people.
Jonathan concluded: “This project will be centred on Byker residents and people from the wider area. People : Space will give all those involved the chance to consider what is being portrayed and ultimately take a second longer to look at what may be around them.
“We are in an age where we have never seen so much creative talent, as art is fundamental to our existence meaning that top-level support like this is crucial to instigating community involvement.”
To share your pictures and ideas about environmental pride in the West End and Byker Old Town please go to the ‘Clean and Green Stories Newcastle’ page on Face Book.
For further information about the Arts Development work being produced by Newcastle City Council please visit the ‘Leisure, Libraries and Tourism’ section of the Council’s website www.newcastle.gov.uk
Also for details about Newcastle’s ‘Core Cities’ status please click the following link www.corecities.com/about-us/
An exhibition showing the results from the two Artist Residencies will take place in Newcastle City Centre in March next year with a proposed venue still to be announced.