Darlington Arts Festival 2022: Friday 20th – Sunday 22 May 2022

Not long now until Darlington Art Festival 2022 comes to Darlington Town Centre, there will be a marquee in the Market Square sharing fantastic creative work with free entry, and opportunities to enjoy exhibitions and events in various Town Centre locations, including The Friends Meeting House on Skinnergate. The Darlington Arts Festival programme includes events, exhibitions, performances, readings, talks and chances to explore different arts activity.

Darlington Society of Arts was formed in 2022 and are celebrating their centenary this year with some of their members work on display in The Art Shop Darlington’s window during Darlington Arts Festival, wand some of their members are planning to paint in the Market Square on Saturday 21 May during the Arts Festival, which provides another great reason to visit Darlington this weekend.

April workshop for children celebrating aspects of Nigerian culture well received

Earlier this year Victoria Eniola approached contacted Creative Darlington having recently relocated to the town, regarding her ambition to stage an event for families which celebrated aspects of Nigerian culture.

The event was held in April 2022 in Darlington Baptist Church and attracted 37 people, including parents and children, who enjoyed activity as well as a chance to taste examples of Nigerian food. The event was well received “they loved it, thank you so much x” “Thanks for a great morning. The kids really enjoyed it. Hope you’re happy with how it went and already planning next time!”.

Victoria will explore whether its possible to take further activity forward, and Creative Darlington expects that with Darlington’s fantastic events programme and all the talents resident within or visiting the borough, there will be more opportunities to explore the culture of multiple nations going forward. Please do not hesitate to contact the Creative Darlington at stephen.wiper@darlington.gov.uk if you have ideas for what next.

”The main aim was to create a safe space where children in Darlington could learn about Nigerian culture and celebrate diversity and what brings us together. The children engaged with the games and art activities, they were also given a trivia on aspects of Nigerian culture they learnt and the results of that showed they learnt something. I have started networking with parents of participants and there has been interest in starting a cultural class including Yoruba (Nigerian language) lessons and dance for children in Darlington.” Victoria Eniola

Artists work on display soon in the Friends Community Hub as part of Darlington Arts Festival 2022

Creative Darlington has allocated support to Darlington Friends to install boards to display exhibitions in a community focused space they expect to open soon on Skinnergate in the former Footprints unit close to the Friends Meeting House. The boards and space will host an exhibition by Darlington artists Artofmistakesuk (@artofmistakesuk) • Instagram photos and videos , Sam Green, Alison Ivanec and Brian Lee during Darlington Arts Festival 2022.

Creative Darlington was delighted to support the installation of exhibition boards in a community focused Town Centre location, creating a new space where artwork can be seen, particularly as the exhibition programme in the gallery at Darlington Library has been put on hold during the restoration work there. Looking forward to seeing the exhibition during Darlington Arts Festival 2022.

Find out more about ‘Opening the Closet Doors’

Image 1: Colour photograph, interior. An old programme belonging to Darlington Hippodrome. There is a dancing woman with a fan and red dress on the front.

Hello! My name is Sarah Li and I am a Scouse artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne.  I am very excited to finally be able to introduce myself and to you all and what I am doing with Creative Darlington. 

Image 2: Colour photograph, interior. It’s me Sarah Li exploring the archival material. A white non-binary person with brown hair stands in a mirrored practice room. There are large tables with boxes laid out on them. The person is wearing white gloves and looking through archival material in one of the boxes. 

‘Opening the Closet Doors’ is an art and film project that I am working on with local LGBTQ+ adults referencing the archives of the Darlington Hippodrome. I have been exploring these amazing archives with the incredible and very knowledgeable historian James Davison to uncover LGBTQ+ histories, stories, shows and performers. Some of these narratives and inspirations are beginning to take shape into our creative responses that will be shown at the Darlington Hippodrome summer time 2022.

I am still very keen to learn more about Darlington, more about this beautiful theatre and in particular to hear your stories. If you are a local LGBTQ+ adult and you would like to hear more about how you could get involved in the project, please contact: s.grundy.art@gmail.com

Keep your eyes peeled for more information over the coming months!

Image 3: Colour photograph, interior. Archival boxes lie on a table. Some of them are open revealing stacks of scores. 

Commissioned as part of the ‘Flourish’ programme by Creative Darlington

Also funded by Arts Council England and County Durham Community Foundation (Dover Art Prize creative award).

This project is generously being supported by 

Darlington Hippodrome

LGBT+ NSG and SAN North East

Huge thank you to Helix Arts who have provided invaluable support alongside Creative Darlington during the R&D stage of this project.

Image credits: Sarah and Edwin Li, Darlington Hippodrome Archives

Book now for Summer Term creative courses at The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts in Darlington

Do you want to try drawing, painting, ceramics, jewellery making, portraiture, life drawing or trying a new creative course for fun in Darlington, then why not explore the Summer programme of courses at The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts above or at https://thebridgedarlington.org.uk/courses/term/

Most of the Summer Term Arts Courses run one session per week on a weekly basis over ten weeks with the Summer Term beginning in the week commencing Monday 2 May and closing in the week commencing Monday 26 July 2022).

If interested you can sign-up online or call The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts on 01325 243864.

Interested in the arts and crafts, have financial skills and time to volunteer, then you might want to take them to

The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts is a Darlington charity and we looking for a volunteer who is interested in any aspect of arts or crafts and who could look after our finances.  We run courses in painting, ceramics, photography and many other different media, aiming to help the mental health and well being of the local community as well as providing a vital cultural centre for the town.  He or she needs to be some one who has accounting and/or bookkeeping skills and the task is certainly not onerous.  It consists of a commitment to one to two hours a week on average (with increased activity around the submission of the annual accounts), and is basically paying a few regular bills, as well as looking after our two bank accounts and  petty cash.  Ideally we would also like you to join our Board, which meets three or four times a year, so that you can take part in our exciting plans for a post-Covid future.  For more details, contact our Chair at chris@the bridge.darlington.org.uk.

Semaphore as Metaphor artwork online

Semaphore as Metaphor filming in Darlington. Image Anton Hecht.

In this short video specially made flags, are used by people in Darlington, who work from an originally designed interface to communicate things which have helped shape or currently contribute to our culture. From various points around the town, people signal letters and words using the visual ship to ship communication method of ‘Semaphore’.

This project was funded and supported by Darlington Borough Council through Creative Darlington and the Arts Council England. Work by Chris Folwell, Anton Hecht and Jason Berge and Thom Samson. Our thanks to all the people involved in making the film including the Creative Space, Darlington Library, the Dolphin Centre, the Head of Steam railway museum, Darlington Hippodrome, The Forum Music Studios, the Majestic Theatre, bell ringers and St. Cuthbert’s Church in Darlington and those who had a try elsewhere in the Town Centre.

Drop in sessions were co-ordinated to find out more about semaphore in a marquee in Darlington Market Square as part of Darlington Arts Festival 2021, so people could have a try at using semaphore to get their message across.

Anton Hecht – Semaphore as Metaphor
Bell Ringer’s at St. Cuthbert’s flying the flag during Semaphore as Metaphor

Some of the cast members of the Dick Whittington Pantomime at The Majestic Theatre in Darlington from Friday 17 December to Friday 31 December 2021 got into costume for filming, oh yes they did, and we hope that follower’s of Anton’s work both in the UK and further afield, will discover more about communication with semaphore and the delights of Darlington as a result of this programme.

“It was fantastic for us to be a part of this and input our own quirky ways to this project. It’s wonderful for a variety of communities to come together to help in whatever way we can. The Majestic Theatre are wanting to become more involved and help in whatever way we can which also helps promote our beautiful venue and keep the arts alive! Thank you for welcoming us to this project.” 

Hayley Warters, Lyall Events & Entertainment Director, The Majestic Theatre

MAKING THE CUT at Darlington Library

Big thanks to artist Bethan Maddocks, winner of the Dover Art Prize 2019, for sharing MAKING THE CUT in the gallery at Darlington Library. The exhibition is open to the public from 10am to 4pm daily on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between Monday 22 November 2021 and Thursday 16 December 2021, thanks to Darlington Cultural Volunteers for their support in stewarding the exhibition. The gallery is closed to the public on weekends.

Grand Constructions celebrated in Queen Street Shopping Centre

Grand Constructions exhibition on display in Queen Street Shopping Centre – November 2021

Models created by Cabinet of Curiosity Studio as part of a Grand Constructions participatory arts project which used art, making and design to explore the architectural and industrial heritage of the North East of England can now be seen in Queen Street Shopping Centre in Darlington, who have kindly provided space to share work created during the programme. Grand Constructions was a project supported by Arts Council England and Creative Darlington.

Cabinet of Curiosity Studio worked with people in Darlington during Darlington Arts Festival 2021 and at the Head of Steam railway museum during the programme, and have kindly made templates for their models of Baltic Flour Mills, Darlington Clock Tower, the Gaunless Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge (shown below) available online if you want to get involved and have a go at conjuring up your own Grand Construction model. There are also a small number of templates of Darlington Clock Tower available at Darlington Library while stocks last.

Further information on Grand Constructions and templates are available at: https://www.cabinetofcuriositystudio.com/pages/grand-constructions

A big thank you to Cabinet of Curiosity Studio, Queen Street Shopping Centre, all the people who had a try at making models, all the people including architects, builders and engineers who created the buildings and bridges depicted within the exhibition, and the makers of carboard and the inventors of the laser-cutting.

Thank you Caroline and Edmond from Cabinet of Curiosity Studio for bringing Grand Constructions to Darlington and demonstrating what happens when creativity, cardboard and ingenuity meet.

Grand Constructions exhibition being installed

MAKING THE CUT by Bethan Maddocks exhibited in the gallery at Darlington Library shortly

Photo credit: Bec Hughes

Bethan Maddocks Making the Cut exhibition will be on display in the gallery at Darlington Library between Monday 22 November and Thursday 16 December 2021. The gallery is open to the public Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm. The exhibition is presented with thanks to The Dover Art Prize and with thanks to Darlington Culture Volunteers for help in stewarding the exhibition.

Explore giant ladders, paper leaves and open books in this presentation of new work that celebrates the forests and trees of County Durham. Making the Cut will share Bethan’s experiments with hand and machine cutting to present a series of sculptures and explorations in paper, perspex and metal.

Artist Bethan Maddocks, winner of The Dover Prize 2019,  works with light, paper, fabric and found objects to make sculptures and installations that audiences can touch, explore or add to. During the last two years she has explored new technologies in paper cutting and paper sculpting techniques, to create a series of work and exhibitions developed with support from The Dover Prize

Having aimed to work closely with the community in 2020, Bethan shifted the focus of this work to instead reflect the landscapes and forests that both shaped the heritage and industry of County Durham and provided a salve of respite for the community in recent challenging times.

The Dover Prize is a 2-year bursary awarded to an artist to provide them with time to think, research, reflect and experiment with new ideas to create work premiered in Darlington.