Conversations in Painting Studio Visits

Continuing on from previous creative activity, Conversations in Painting are hosting a number of Painter’s Studio Visits throughout 2019. The first will be with the initiators / organisers of Conversations in Painting – painters Sarah Cooney and Phil Gatenby at their Navigator North studio in Middlesbrough. Join the visit (and conversation) on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 from 18:00-20:00.

Address is Riverside House, High Force Road, Riverside Park, Middlesbrough TS2 1RH

An informal evening of discussion about Contemporary Painting at the studio of painters Sarah Cooney and Phil Gatenby.

All are welcome / Free to attend / Refreshments provided

6-8pm / 23.01.19

Riverside House is situated on Riverside Park. Riverside Park is located adjacent to the A66 and is approximately 5 minutes drive from Middlesbrough Station.

Event Page Link here

See Darlington through the eyes of artists in January 2019

Darlington through the eyes of artists

5th – 30th January 2019

Darlington through the eyes of artists is on display until Wednesday 30 January 2019. A selection of oils, watercolours and sketches from the local studies collection, all featuring views of the town that have inspired artists over the years. Interesting not only for their artistic merit but also for what we can learn from them about Darlington in times gone by.

As Robert Scarr, writing in the Darlington and Stockton Times, 7th October 1967 said:

“Darlington has provided many fine artists in times past, and their works, besides being a constant source of pleasure to connoisseurs are also of great help to local historians, depicting as they do, many aspects of the town’s architecture and pastoral charm in times past”.


Royal Northern Sinfonia – New Year New Artists performance – Thursday 17 January 2019 at Darlington Hippodrome

In 2018 Creative Darlington was delighted to support a fantastic film and music project as part of our ongoing work with Orchestras Live and Durham Music Service, which began with the Hallé Orchestra giving two performances at the Dolphin Centre in 2016.  In summer 2018, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) started a creative film composition project in which young musicians from Wyvern Academy, Darlington, composed a live musical soundtrack for a short film working with renowned music leader James Redwood, several OAE players and a trainee music leader.  The created soundtrack was orchestrated so that additional members of the OAE could join the young musicians for a pre-concert performance of the new music together with the projected film at The Hullabaloo on 10 September 2018. This was followed by the OAE concert at Darlington Hippodrome, featuring the orchestra performing Richard Strauss’ 1925 score of Der Rosenkavalier, performed live with the original silent film. The audience were invited to arrive early to attend the ‘curtain-raiser’ event, in which they could enjoy the contemporary film music work of local young people.    I’m Never  Gonna Stop,  is a  beautiful depiction of Darlington in my view, developed as part of a fantastic programme of activity involving talented young people in Darlington.

In 2019 Creative Darlington is also supporting workshops with a composer/music leader, several Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) players and an assistant (trainee) music leader, to devise a short piece of music that combines the participants as an ensemble together with solo saxophone. Following a morning rehearsal, the project will culminate in a pre-concert event on stage at Darlington Hippodrome on Thursday 17 January 2019, when Jess Gillam will join young musicians from Carmel College and RNS players to perform the new piece, with the Royal Northern Sinfonia concert at Darlington Hippodrome at 7.30pm to follow.


Invitation to Artists – Thursday 13 December 2018

Great news from the Auxiliary Project Space, who have curated helpful activity in Darlington this year and brilliant activity various regarding space and future opportunities, hope lots of artists from Darlington and other parts of the Tees Valley accept their invitation, shown below.


The Auxiliary Project Space are happy to announce plans for a new gallery and studios on Station Street, Middlesbrough.

Housed in a large warehouse with roller door access and high ceilings, The Auxiliary are inviting regional artists, groups and organizations to come and view the space and open the conversation on what types of space artists in the Tees Valley need.

This is an opportunity for local artists to direct how The Auxiliary studios will be planned. Studios will be ready to occupy early 2019.

Other areas of the warehouse will also be open, and thoughts on how these spaces could be best utilized by the local arts community are most welcome. For more details, please contact Liam or Anna on

Place: 29 Station Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1SR (the large green warehouse, opposite Station Street car park)

Date: 13th December

Time: 12-2pm

Light refreshments will be available.


About The Auxiliary

The Auxiliary Project Space is an artist-led, contemporary grassroots organization. Founded in 2016, it is for the production, practice and exhibiting of contemporary and experimental art, in particular sonic art. Through investigating the rich local industrial heritage through artistic inquiry, The Auxiliary reimagine the Tees Valley as a site for invigorated, creative industries.
Enabling local, national and international artists in devising independent art platforms and structures for the dissemination of contemporary art practices throughout the Tees Valley, The Auxiliary aim to produce legacy through long term projects and community engagement, fostering cultural exchange with international organizations and artists that share a similar ethos. Recent projects include Middlesbrough Art Weekender, a contemporary arts festival, Stockton Contemporary, a ten day art trail through the town and Creative Arc, a collaborative project between the Tees Valley, Berlin and Detroit.

IncluDANCE is coming to Darlington

Inclusive dance is coming to Darlington



IncluDANCE is an inclusive dance group for young people aged 11 – 18 living in and around Darlington. To launch the group there will be some FREE taster classes happening in the lead up to Christmas and from January the class will meet each week on a Monday evening.


The dance group will be led by local dancer Debbie Waistell and her company The D Project. IncluDANCE is open to all and Debbie is specifically keen to attract young people with a disability who wish to dance.


Debbie said ‘The ‘dance style’ will be Contemporary and focus on creating original movement and allowing each person to bring their own way of moving and creating to the group’ she went onto say that ‘the class will provide a creative space for young people to dance and build confidence in a supportive environment’


All sessions will be held at the Forum Music Centre based in Darlington Town Centre. The group is part of the project that specifically promotes inclusive dance opportunities for young people across Tees Valley.


Jean Lordon of Tees Valley Sport said of the project “We are so pleased to be supporting this inclusive dance opportunity in Darlington – it’s wonderful to see young people coming together and having access to high quality regular out-of-school dance activities and hopefully inspiring a passion for dance for life.”


Before Christmas there are some FREE ‘have a go’ taster sessions and anybody interested in joining the group is invited to come and try.



Mondays: 26th Nov, 3rd Dec, 10th Dec.

18:00—19:00 @ The Forum Music Centre.

To register your interest in the taster sessions and IncluDANCE please contact Debbie Waistell: / 07851 235807


From January 2019 IncluDANCE will meet regularly at The Forum Music Centre on Borough Road in Darlington on a Monday evening from 18:00—19:00.



County Durham Community Foundation is delighted to launch the Dover Prize 2018.

This 2-year bursary of £10,000 that supports excellence and experimentation in the arts and creative industries and is an opportunity is open to any UK-based creative practitioner, individual artist or art collective. An application must be made online along with recent images of work. The Prize will be awarded by an esteemed panel of judges to the artist(s) whose work most meets the aims of the Dover Prize in raising the profile of contemporary arts in Darlington to make a positive impact on the town.

The funding will be awarded to an artist or artists to provide them with time to think, research, reflect and/or experiment with new ideas that will create a body of work to be premiered in Darlington in 2020/1.

Applying to the Fund


To apply to the Dover Prize, applicants should complete the online application form available from CDCF’s website:

A shortlist of three artists will be chosen for interview and selected on the strength of their work and their potential to raise the profile of creative and visual arts in the Darlington.

Application Deadlines

The deadline for receipt of applications to the Dover Prize Fund 2018 is Sunday 6th January 2019. We recommend that you complete your application as soon as possible.

Image: Winners of the Dover Prize 2016 Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson


Previous winners of the Dover Prize 2016 – Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson – said: “The prize has made a huge impact on our practice, buying us time in the studio and introducing us to a whole new set of potential collaborators and materials.”

Upload Unplug – Enjoyed

On the evening of Friday 2 November 2018 Pell Ensemble performed Upload Unplug to an appreciative audience within the gallery space at Crown Street Library.  The performance fitted well in the library setting, wherein information, imagination, data, digital access, learning and various collections are accessible.  The piece was accessible to ages 12+ and attracted a good audience on the night, including children from Darlington Hippodromes Mix it Up dance class, who had been working five hours a day for several days with Pell Ensemble earlier in the week.  Pell are working with children at the Education Village this week with a performance of Upload Unplug to follow in early November 2018.

Within Upload Unplug digital dance company Pell Ensemble invited you into the world of EPOQ: A live gaming experience where your choices become data, uploaded to shape a new human being. The piece merged dance, music and technology within an hour long performance in which members of the audience played an active role.  On entering the space the audience met David, who was ready to be brought to life by the data they submitted through engaging with a short questionnaire which was accesssed via around 20 tablets, set within the library. From the safety of your seat and through a custom built app on a mobile device, and their every tap, swipe and swirl informed who David becomes within the work.  Through audience input David experienced the joy, fear and complexity of being human.

Upload Unplug was co-produced with Helix Arts, originally commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts 2017 and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.  Other supporting partners included ARC Stockton, Creative Darlington, Teesside University, Metal Peterborough, The Edge, Redbridge Drama Centre and Foyle Foundation with digital partners Visual Pilots and creative technologists Owen Hindley (Huldufugl) and Alexander Wallin.  I found the piece, which ran for around an hour, well produced and very striking. While I did not see the performance at Crown Street Library I had seen it earlier this year at Arc, and would recommend catching it if you see it on tour elsewhere.  As a fan of film and visual art I was very impressed by the distinct design, the choreography and the feeling that the creative and digital team had delighted in exploring the parallels and differences between David as a physical and digital entity.


I enjoyed the experience of being an audience member who could help inform and shape the performance, I found the alliance of dance and technology beautifully handled.  Upload Unplug made me think and encouraged me to feel actively engaged with a performance rather than a passive recipient of a pre-configured touring structure, wherein one should applaud the performer(s) at the end if you think its merited.  The exploration of autonomy, the exchange of data for experience and  differences between technology and humanity were thoughtfully explored,  the piece felt very topical given concerns around data people can be encouraged to supply day to day and concerns around whether data is put to good use.

I would like to thank Helix and Pell Ensemble for all their work in bringing the Upload Unplug programme to Darlington and all the people in Darlington who got involved in workshops and/or saw the performance.

‘Anarchy Is Religion’ – Endem & Leum

Legitimate Anarchy Records, an independent label based in Darlington, North East England, focused mainly on the genres of Rap/Hip-Hop/Grime are releasing ‘Anarchy Is Religion’ by Endem and Leum, on the 24.11.18 with a Record Release Party  23.11.18 at Voodoo bar and café in Darlington. Record Release Party tickets and further information are available now at  Fantastic stuff!

Strang Stone hit home


A piece of Darlington’s heritage and folklore was the inspiration behind ‘Strang Stane’ which was displayed within Darlington’s covered market. A live performance by Endem & Leum commissioned as part of ‘Strang Stane’ marked its opening there on Friday 24 August 2018 and it remained on display for several weeks, rotating periodically throughout the day.

‘Strang Stane’ was created by London-based artists Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson, who were awarded County Durham Community Foundation’s Dover Prize 2016, a £10,000 bursary to develop an exhibition of works to be premiered in Darlington.  Doyle and Mallinson’s practice deals with political, social and historical issues utilising an eclectic mix of cultural references and often use second-hand materials, salvaged from other sources, bringing with them their own history.  The duo explored the history and mythology surrounding the Bulmer Stone, a glacial boulder that once marked the northern edge of town. Associated with engineer George Stephenson, it can also be found depicted on bronze plaques alongside the Locomotion 1 steam engine. A town crier called Willy Bulmer would stand on it to read out the contents of the newspapers while in folklore it is said to revolve nine times at 12 o’clock, though no one knows if it’s midnight or midday.

The boulder was moved in 1923 during road works and is now ‘imprisoned’ behind the railings of Central House, Northgate. Using imagery and forms associated with activism and protest, ‘Strang Stane’ imagines the Bulmer Stone being returned to its original position.  The artists explained:  “We became interested in the stone, both as a prehistoric landmark and because of its association with Stephenson and the railways.  The fact it supposedly has the magic power of movement gave it an extra level of interest, as did its removal from its original site. We tried to research this, but all we could find were a few references to protests in 1923 from locals who called the removal of the Bulmer Stone ‘an act of vandalism’.  As artists we’ve looked at the imagery and forms associated with protest movements and have imagined an attempt to return the Bulmer Stone to its original position.”

Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer, County Durham community Foundation, said: “We relaunched the Dover Prize in 2016 as a major art bursary for Darlington, to highlight the Foundation’s ongoing aim to support excellence and experimentation in the arts and creative industries in our region.  Doyle and Mallinson have created an exciting and interesting piece and, through winning the Dover Prize, have helped raise the profile of contemporary arts in Darlington to make a positive impact on the town.”




Festival of Thrift, Creative Fuse and Navigator North are presenting an exciting opportunity for artists and creative, cultural or digital businesses working in the Tees Valley Region to take part in a short programme between October and December 2018.

The first of these opportunities will welcome you to join us to find out more about the programme, tell us what support you need and how to secure a place for further support, workshops and bespoke mentoring.


What: C O L L I D E R S C O P E  Welcome session

When: Wednesday 31st October, 2-4pm

Where: Navigator North, Dundas House, Middlesbrough, TS1 1HY

Book your place here

In 2018, supported by Tees Valley Combined Authority, Festival of Thrift initiated a programme of commissions – Viewpoints – aimed at encouraging artists to engage with ideas of sustainability and to create work which would provide a viewpoint on a related issue and / or be located at a viewpoint in the Tees Valley.

For 2019, as part of the run up to a Tees Valley bid for City of Culture 2025 the Festival wishes to develop the project to embed artists within regional low carbon industries, sharing knowledge, ideas and skills.

VIEWPOINTS will be a national call out, but prior to the commissions there is an exciting opportunity for creative, cultural or digital businesses and sole traders working in the Tees Valley Region to develop pitching skills, upscale work, work bigger, test out new materials and push their practice in new directions.

Festival of Thrift have teamed up with CREATIVE FUSE and NAVIGATOR NORTH to deliver a short programme October – December 2018 for select participants to gain new knowledge and develop a fit for purpose approach to bidding for and presenting innovative ideas.