Conversations in Painting

Photo Credit : Julian Lister

At an opening event for the Tell Her Story exhibition in November 2016 I was invited by Sarah Cooney (who had a couple of paintings within that exhibition) and Phil Gatenby to discuss their interest in developing an exhibition focused on painting.  On first impression it sounded like a great idea, an exploration of painting now felt timely.  Sarah, Phil and I met with Vicky Holbrough from Navigator North shortly afterwards to discuss the development of this proposal.  Phil and Sarah, with support from Vicky, developed a fantastic proposal, which secured support from Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts and Darlington Borough Council.   It’s been a privilege to work with creative and determined people who’ve committed their energy, time, enthusiasm, experience and expertise to develop and share this project in Crown Street Library.   


Less than 12 months later I’d estimate we welcomed somewhere between 50 and 70 visitors to the gallery on the evening of Friday 13 October 2017 for the exhibition opening event.  The exhibition includes work by Sarah Cooney, Deb Covell, Gordon Dalton, Philip Gatenby, Remy Neumann and Alicia Paz.   Conversations in Painting proved an apt title that evening given the degree of discourse and the time people spent exploring the exhibition.  One of the artists, Remy had travelled from the Netherlands for the install and opening and it was nice to see people who had travelled down from Tyneside, from across Tees Valley and from further afield enjoying the event.   


Having been to the gallery following the opening I’ve been struck by how subtly and confidently those involved in developing and curating this exhibition have explored the character, substance and language of painting. In my view the exhibition allows space for the nuances and character of each artists work  to be appreciated, while showing the work of six different artists side by side also encouraged me to think about the distinctive characteristics of painting now.  It’s difficult in words to communicate the joy of colours, marks, how the substance of paint differs, how different artists have engaged with time and content and developed their individual practice.  If you can make it down you can enjoy each artists work and the rhythm and  interplay between their pieces when brought together.


Conversations in Painting have planned a number of panel discussions around painting. Their first will take place at Crown Street Gallery.

Conversations in Painting: politics, practice and pedagogy starting 6pm on Thursday 2 November 2017 at Crown Street Library.  Panel speakers are Kerry Harker (Chair and Independent Curator), Stephen Snoddy (Director, The New Art Gallery Walsall), Tony Charles (Artist and Director, Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough), Alicia Paz (Artist) and Gordon Dalton. 

More at 

All welcome, booking not required, why not join the conversation.

If you have any proposals for exhibitions please get in touch.

Stephen Wiper, Creative Darlington Manager

Conversations in Painting: ‘if it fits in the Fiesta you’re in…’ present an exhibition of new and recent paintings



Conversations in Painting: ‘if it fits in the Fiesta you’re in…’ present an exhibition of new and recent paintings at Crown Street Art Gallery, Darlington – Saturday 14th October until Thursday 9th November 2017 – showing work made by a group of practitioners distinctly placed in their personal trajectory who sustain a direct connection with the Tees Valley. A collaboration of emerging, established, national and international artists whose collective expertise represents a diverse range of interpretive approaches. Artists commissioned to make work for this show are: Sarah COONEY, Deb COVELL, Gordon DALTON, Philip GATENBY, Neil McNALLY, Remy NEUMANN and Alicia PAZ. This project seeks to understand more about how visual arts culture operates in the Tees Valley, especially so through its focus on painting. Conversations in Painting… is an artist led project initiated by Sarah Cooney and Philip Gatenby in partnership with the independent curator Kerry Harker, a co-curated selective review of non-representational approaches to fine art practice.

The exhibition is set in the conventions of the white box gallery as a ‘performance space’ for shared conversational dialogue between participant artists and the public. Public events and workshops scheduled throughout the duration of the gallery show will host visitors, guest practitioners, curators, writers, students and invested members of the public as co-participants in panel discussions and seminar groups including the opportunity to participate in artist led painting workshops.

Documentary notes and recordings of conversational dialogue at these sessions are regarded as essential reference for inclusion in the project catalogue published at the end of the project to advocate the further progress of painting in the Tees Valley. Real time activities taking place throughout the public exhibition will be shared via a dedicated project website, incorporating documented critical writing, co-participant notes and recordings disseminated through the project blog and by partner organisations.

This artist led project appreciates the support of key funders: Arts Council England (GfA Award) and Darlington Borough Council, and partner support from: Creative Darlington, Navigator North, Platform A Gallery, The House of Blah, Blah and The Auxiliary.


Further information can be found on the project website

Announcing blimey X Artist Call Out

blimey! are inviting artists to submit a postcard sized 2D artwork to celebrate the 10th year of the Darlington based artist collective in 2017.

All suitable submitted artworks will be shown in a two day exhibition in July in Darlington town centre as part of our events to mark our 10th birthday. 10 artworks will be selected to be reproduced and printed as commemorative postcards which will be available during the exhibition.

As part of this opportunity two prizes of £500 each will be awarded for two selected artworks, one selected by the blimey! collective and the other by a public vote.

Artists can submit up to 3 artworks including; painting, photography, digital art, textiles, collage etc… All artworks should be 2D and A6 measuring 105 × 148 mm or 4.13 × 5.83 inches. There is no charge to submit artwork to this exhibition.

Download our further information and submission form – blimey X Postcard exhibition submission form

Arts organisation launches small grants scheme

To celebrate the beginning of Darlington Arts Festival, which it co-ordinates, arts organisation Darlington for Culture has announced the launch of a small grants scheme.

The voluntary organisation has launched the scheme after receiving a donation from a company with Darlington connections, and is working in conjunction with Creative Darlington to administer the scheme.

DfC has long believed that small grants can allow everyone from music groups to art organisations to achieve great things and the scheme will offer grants of up to £500.

Applications will be open from April 27, 2017.

DfC Vice-Chair Jo Potter said: “Since early in our formation, DfC has played an important part with our volunteer programme in supporting the arts in Darlington.

“In more than twenty years of working with local drama groups I have been impressed by the wealth of artistic talent from the town, particularly young actors who have gone onto stage school and more than a few that have subsequently become successful on stage and screen.

“The fund that we have launched is aimed at supporting all grassroots arts initiatives, not just drama, to become established.

“We welcome applications for any planned event that will enrich the cultural offering available from Darlington and help to further establish the town as a centre of excellence for the arts.”

More information can be obtained on the home page of DfC’s website at

Textile and Sewing Group with Sarah Oatley

Textile and Sewing Group with Sarah Oatley

99 Parkgate, DL1 1RZ

Come and join her she runs sessions:

Mondays 1-3pm & 7-9pm

Tuesdays 7-9pm

Wednesdays 10am-12pm

Fridays 1-3pm


She also works out of the studio as a textile artist, selling landscapes and seascapes.

Moved by the Spirit exhibition

Cpirits by the sea spirits


The Moved by the Spirit exhibition on Quaker heritage by Darlington Photography Association will be closed to the public from Monday 6 February to Saturday 11 February 2017. The exhibition will re-open to the public on Monday 13 February 2017.

The Bridge Christmas Open Day


Stay, Play and Create

Play, Stay and Create


Play, Stay and Create was planned by the Make Art Happen group on Red Hall and took place on Sunday 11th December 2016. Local artists, producers and parents got involved in planning the event which contained fun activities, including animation. Helix Arts provided a training package for the Make Art Happen group, which will help in planning future activities.

All set for A Tale of Two Cities

Community cast all set for A Tale of Two Cities from The Touring Consortium Theatre Company in association with Darlington Civic Theatre.

Charles Dickens considered his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities to be the best story he had ever written. Interweaving one family’s intensely personal drama with the terror and chaos of the French Revolution, it is an epic story of love, sacrifice and redemption amidst horrific violence and world changing events.

The Touring Consortium Theatre Company, who most recently brought Of Mice And Men, A View From The Bridge and Brave New World to Darlington Civic Theatre have (in partnership with the theatre) created a totally unique production of A Tale Of Two Cities using a cast of community actors.

This new adaptation by Mike Poulton (Fortune’s Fool, Old Vic; Wolf Hall, RSC) is led by director Eduard Lewis who has worked extensively for the Royal Exchange Theatre, and will be staged in the atmospheric setting of Darlington’s Central Hall, where Dickens himself read on 21 September 1858.

Eduard Lewis said: “In A Tale of Two Cities Dickens masterfully sets a love triangle to the backdrop of the most bloody revolution of his era, the French Revolution. He says in the opening of the novel that ‘the times were so like our own as to be almost indistinguishable from them’ looking to Syria, Turkey and even the Black Lives Matter movement in America we can see that this is truer now than it ever has been. Revolution is a part of the fabric of human society, when we see injustice in the world people rise up and stand against it. Mike Poulton’s exceptional adaptation takes the core dramatic elements of Dickens’ novel and condenses it into an action packed two-act play. I could not be happier to be bringing this epic story to the unique setting of the Central Hall and to have the privilege of making it with the people of Darlington, for the people of Darlington. It’s a process that Dickens himself, a great lover of the theatre, would be proud of.”

Please note this is a promenade performance which means that the action will take place in various locations around the set, and the audience will be stand and watch in spaces around the action, and then walk to different locations in the room following the actors as the scenes change and the play progresses. We would encourage the audience to stand to be fully immersed in the experience, however some limited seating options will be available if seating is required.


A Tale Of Two Cities is at Central Hall, Dolphin Centre, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November.

Tickets* are priced £18 for adults, under 16s £10

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit

*Includes £1 restoration levy