New Term Starts shortly at The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts

The Bridge Centre for Visual Art is hosting a range of ticketed arts courses for adults, including Painting and Drawing, Jewellery Making and Ceramics, with the new term of courses starting from Monday 27th September 2021. So, if you’re feeling creative why not contact them to see whether places still available.

Creating Unforgettable Experiences

Creative Darlington has been instrumental in supporting Unforgettable Experiences to recruit, design and develop opportunities for older adults to improve their mental health and memory through its extensive network of high-quality artistic practitioners.

The pandemic has had a serious impact on people’s mental health with an increase in demand for support from health and social care professionals for common mental health disorders and more serious mental illnesses. In addition to meeting the needs and challenges of increasing mental health issues, ‘the pandemic and lockdown has had detrimental effect on cognitive functioning’ with many older adults presenting issues with focus, concentration and/or memory complaints to their GP. Sadly, the arts, cultural and entertainment sector was hit one of the hardest by the pandemic. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee warned that the pandemic presented “the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation”.

When Unforgettable Experiences approached Creative Darlington with an innovative new solution to provide opportunities for artists whilst benefitting local residents who are struggling with their mental health and memory, Creative Darlington were excited to be a part of its journey and contributed towards costs for local artists to design and develop a bespoke programme to keep people’s minds active and stimulate cognition whilst translating a broad range of artistic disciplines online.

Creative Darlington also helped through networks and local contacts to progress recruitment of 10 subcontractors who had significant experience in developing their artistic disciplines in art, music, dance, storytelling, creative writing, history and photography to work with Unforgettable Experiences to design and develop the programme. The pilot has been a huge success receiving over 134 referrals and supporting over 71 people to access a minimum of 12 therapeutic artistic sessions online in just four months. An independent evaluation of the project showed that it had improved wellbeing, memory function and quality of life for older adults who accessed the project by a staggering 20%.

Unforgettable Experiences have since received funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to expand the service across Tees Valley to work with up to 1000 older adults. Creative Darlington have offered to continue their support to help the service to develop and nurture the talent of young artists to support the roll-out and delivery of the service to help more Darlington residents. For further information call 01325 238700 or visit

Enviro Bikes at The Head of Steam railway museum until Friday 17 September 2021

There are opportunities for those aged 16 and over with ID to have a go at riding an Enviro-Bike for free at the Head of Steam railway museum, until Friday 17 September 2021, during museum opening hours (10am – 4pm). Bikes can be borrowed and taken out anytime up to 3pm and you can take them as far as you wish to go provided they’re returned same day to the Head of Steam before 4pm.

Enviro Bikes are at the Head of Steam as part of the Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2021 programme, thanks to the The Auxiliary, who also programmed artist Jo Lathwood to share a Lava Pour at the Head of Steam on 11 September and to the 53 people who came along to find out more and saw rock heated to lava and poured on site. I found it fascinating and it was great to see the lava cool to form what I understand is obsidian (bottom picture below). Artist Jo Lathwood shared her interest in exploring how the fantastic scoria tiles which pave many of Darlington’s back lanes, were created, and there will be another opportunity to find out more about her practice in the MAW 2021 programme.

Build Your Own Clock Tower in Darlington Market Square on Saturday 25 September 2021

Detail of Darlington Clock Tower Paper Model (Cabinet of Curiosity Studio)

There are loads of opportunities to get creative during Darlington Arts Festival 24th to 27th September 2021 – Darlington for Culture including one on Saturday 25 September 2021 for up to 60 people (5 sessions each with a capacity of 12 participants) to get crafting and build your own Darlington Clock Tower using Cabinet of Curiosity Studio’s ‘Grand Constructions’ paper toy-making template offering children the opportunity to explore the architectural and industrial heritage of the North East! This is a free paper crafts workshop with all materials and equipment provided. This activity is suitable for ages 6-11 years.

‘Grand Constructions’ was commissioned by Creative Darlington as part of our New in Town programme to support original creative projects informed by place and local heritage, and also supported by National Lottery Project Grants.   The five sessions on Saturday 25 September 2021 each last 40 minutes and are scheduled to run 11.15 – 11.55am, 12.15 – 12.55pm, 1.15 – 1.55pm, 2.15 – 2.55pm and 3.15 – 3.55pm as part of Darlington Arts Festival 2021. There is a maximum of 12 participants per session and children must be accompanied by an adult to take part. If a session is full people will be offered an opportunity to sign up for the next available session.

Thanks to Cabinet of Curiosity Studio and Darlington Arts Festival 2021 for making Saturday 25 September a time to get creative and offering those visiting our Town Centre an opportunity to craft your own Town Clock.

Flags out for Semaphore as Metaphor during a fantastic Darlington Arts Festival 2021

Semaphore is Metaphor, coming to Darlington Arts Festival 2021

There will be two opportunities to creatively explore semaphore and to make your own flags during Darlington Arts Festival 2021, with drop in activity from 10am on Friday 24 September 2021 in a marquee in the Market Square, and activity at the Head of Steam railway museum on Sunday 26 September 2021. Both drop in sessions are supported by Creative Darlington and Arts Council England through Project Funding.

Semaphore is Metaphor offers free drop in activity, learn how you can make flags and how to use them to send words visually across distances. Semaphore is a traditional signing language used across distances before alternate modes of communication like mobile phones or Tablets were developed. It is still used today by various bodies such as the army and navy. So come make your own flags and then have a go on an interface developed created by artist Anton Hecht, to acquire the visual language. What messages will you send, how far can they go, and who will they be to?  

Artist, Anton Hecht, who has developed this activity with other artists, has brought many playful ideas to Darlington in the past which have been filmed and shared online and within arts and film festivals nationally and internationally, helping to spread the word about Darlington’s creative spirit! Other works which Anton has shared in Darlington include a Trolley Dance in the Market Square working with GOLD, urban Maypoles throughout the Town, a Stop Start Tango in Darlington Market. He’s also orchestrated A Guidonian Hand where people were guided to sing by prints on their palms, a Sign Language Dual and brought Slime Tango to the Festival of Ingenuity here in 2019.

If you get to either Semaphore is Metaphor session and have a go we hope you have fun flag-making and that if you have a go, people get your message with everyone smiling and nobody flagging (except literally!).

Insectopolis in Darlington Town Centre

Insectopolis city of insects. Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International

Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International spent two days in Darlington Town Centre recently sharing Insectopolis city of insects here. Activity included walkabout by ginormous butterflies and bees, a giant jigsaw exploring insect life, planting of flowers and live music (first time I’ve seen an insect playing accordion!).

Insectopolis city of insects engaged c 900 people in Darlington, c 400 people on Saturday and c 500 on Sunday when the sun came out. People of all ages got involved. Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International’s programme aims to entertain and bring attention to steps people might take to address insect depletion

Insectopolis inspired planting in Darlington Town Centre. Photo Paul Miskin

Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International enjoyed their two days in Darlington and Insectopolis was a programme in development, and with support from Creative Darlington and other parties, secured Project Funding from Arts Council England.

‘Our experience was very  enjoyable and fascinating. We found a lot of interest in our topic. Some from people for whom it was a fresh idea and from others that were already very well informed. So a lot of great conversations. We are developing the show as we go. As well as the sun coming out on the second day we increased the music input and you can see the butterflies dancing in the video. This is an idea we will develop in future. The dance of nature. The children were brilliant and we hope to adapt this show for schools and children’s festivals’.  Paul Miskin from the NWSI

Some Like It Hot! Sonic-bikes and a Lava Pour at The Head of Steam railway museum this September!

Jo Lathwood will be in the field at the Head of Steam railway museum on Saturday 11th September 12 noon – 2pm to give a live Lava Pour performance demonstrating the recreation of molten rock, forming into a variety of shapes and sizes through heat. The performance will be an incredible storytelling experience for all the family – get a taster of the incredible performance at

Want to try out a Sonic-bike? Developed by the Bicrophonic Research Institute (BRI), Sonic-bikes are fitted with sensors designed to detect air pollution levels and play sounds and music in response, forming a unique outdoor listening experience for the cyclist. The higher the air pollution levels, the more intense the sounds and music, allowing for you to get a completely unique experience every day you take a ride, depending on the air that day!  Take a look for yourself on their website:

A Sonic-bike, sound, vision and environmental awareness

I hadn’t been on a bicycle in decades before getting on a Sonic-bike earlier this year, but was glad I had a go. Sonic-bikes will be with at the Head of Steam railway museum every day the museum’s open between Saturday 11th September and Friday 17th September 2021.  Please note, in order to use the bikes, Middlesbrough Art Weekender ask that you are over 16 and that a form of ID is provided. 

Song of the Skerne film premiere

The Song of the Skerne film premieres on Thursday 12th August, 7.30pm and will be kept online till 31st August. 2021.

I was lucky enough to attend a screening event of the film at Darlington Hippodrome earlier in the year, and if you’re a fan of children’s creativity, music, the natural world, landscape photography, tenacious creativity, the river Skerne or all of the above, it’s one not to miss. The film developed as part of a programme involving Discover Brightwater, Darlington Hippodrome, Durham Music Service (The Music Hub for Darlington), Opera North, Orchestra’s Live and schoolchildren in Darlington. Due to the timing of the project partners and participants inevitably had to adapt the programme during the pandemic , however nothing stopped their creative flow.

Creative Darlington has supported partnership activity involving Darlington Hippodrome, Durham Music Service and Orchestras Live since 2015 (with the Hallé Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Mozart Players and Opera North working with children in Darlington to date). Hope you enjoy the film!

Can you help? ‘Stolen Glances: Lesbians take Photographs’ exhibition at Darlington Arts Centre 1992

Creative Darlington and Darlington Borough Council Local Studies have been contacted by a curator and researcher interested in both public and press reaction to the touring ‘Stolen Glances: Lesbians take Photographs’ exhibition supported by Arts Council England which was shared at Darlington Arts Centre in 1992. The exhibition was expected to run 13 March – 25 April 1992 but I don’t know whether these were the final exhibition dates.

Colleagues at Darlington Hippodrome have checked but we cannot find a copy of the Arts Centre brochure covering this period to check how the exhibition was promoted, or a copy of the comments book referred to in a press article concerning the exhibition, to advise how it was received. I have advised the curator and researcher I would put a call out online for people who may have visited or been involved in the exhibition or who may have back copies of Arts Centre brochures from early 1992 onwards (a long shot but who knows) to contact me.

The curator and researcher is visiting Darlington on 23 August 2021 and is keen to gather what information and insight they can. If you have anything you want to share regarding the Stolen Glances: Lesbians take Photographs exhibition please can you get in touch with me at Stephen Wiper and I will advise them. Many thanks.

HOME TIME exhibition dates