North East Connected

Stunning art installations for historic stable block at Festival of Thrift

FOTA project combining the talents of selected new and established artists from Teesside and County Durham is to create a series of striking new artworks to temporarily transform an historic stable block that is part of the Festival of Thrift site.

The Festival is a hugely popular free-to-enter event focussing on living sustainably in style that takes place onSaturday 17 and Sunday 18 September at Kirkleatham Museum and grounds near Redcar on the North East coast.

It offers visitors a programme of over 140 activities involving innovative and cutting-edge art and entertainment including the unique art project, ‘STABLE’, to be located in Kirkleatham estate’s renovated 18th century Grade II* listed stable block.

The project has been devised and is managed by arts organisation, Navigator North, which initiates, facilitates and promotes opportunities for visual artists to help further their creative practice.

It includes a bursary and mentoring by internationally renowned installation artist, Steve Messam and members of the Festival team, for five emerging north-east artists, selected following a regional call-out to create new work, whose artworks are being showcased at the event.

Steve’s previous work has included a spectacular bright red bridge in the Lake District made out of four tonnes of paper that was strong enough to carry a vehicle.

His work at the Festival, ‘Tower’, is a temporary installation within the staircase block of the stables.  It will involve large textile forms playing with the geometric architecture of the rear of the main stable block, attributed to architect James Gibbs who also designed the nearby Almshouses as well as St Martins in the Field and St Mary le Strand in London.

Festival of Thrift director, Stella Hall, says that the project is designed to highlight the value of the arts in building resilient and sustainable communities.

She added: “The Festival is all about inspiring people to live a happy, fulfilled life that doesn’t cost the earth and creativity is a wonderful way of achieving that and prompting people to think differently.”

“Art and creativity underpin so much of what makes life enjoyable and meaningful so we are delighted to be able to celebrate that with the STABLE project and both support developing artists and champion an amazing artist like Steve at the same time.”

Works from the emerging artists will include: a walk-through woven installation, a series of 80 cast sandcastle sculptures, an equestrian themed shadow sculpture, a film installation responding to horse racing and a light and sound responsive suspended ceramic and glass installation.

Nicola Golightly, Navigator North Co-Director says: “Working with Festival of Thrift for the fourth year running, we are looking forward to supporting the STABLE artists via our professional development bursary. The event offers an exciting platform for showing the work of five talented emerging regional artists alongside our established artist.”

The emerging artists that were selected for the project include self-taught glass and porcelain artist Janet Rogers from Durham; Teesside University Fine Art graduate film and sculpture maker, Kirsty Childs; Stockton-based Paul Theo Murray, a graduate in visual communications from Leeds College of Art; textile artist, Christina Hesford, a graduate of Hartlepool’s Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) and former Ian Ramsey School and Stockton Sixth form pupil, Becky Nicholson, a graduate in stage production also from CCAD.

The STABLE bursary is one of a series of opportunities being offered by Navigator North as part of its Professional Development Programme in 2016, which also includes business advice and training, visits to regional and national arts organisations and events as well as studio space and mentoring

For further information about Navigator North’s programme visit

For full details on the Festival of Thrift’s programme visit

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