Exhibitions are currently programmed at Darlington Town Hall and Crown Street Library and we are involved in a variety of visual arts activity in Darlington, including The Dover Art Prize co-ordinated by County Durham Community Foundation. We also manage and promote access to Darlington’s Borough Art Collection. Works in the collection in oil and acrylic paint can be accessed online through the Art UK website. Appointments can be made to view particular works in the collection and we have staged 4 exhibitions including works from the Borough Art Collection in Crown Street Art Gallery and 1 at the Darlington Town Hall Exhibition space since 2012.

We have worked with the County Durham Community Foundation and Darlington Society of Arts to remodel the delivery of the Dover Art Prize in Darlington. The Dover Prize Exhibition began in 1998 when Peggy Nonhebel (née Dover) set up an endowment with County Durham Community Foundation to promote art and the education of art in and around Darlington. The Fund paid for an annual art exhibition for local artists which was held at the Crown library in Darlington. The Prize was relaunched in 2016 as a 2-year bursary of £10,000 to support excellence and experimentation in the arts and creative industries. The bursary is awarded to an artist or artists to provide them with time to think, research, reflect and/or experiment with new ideas to create work premiered in Darlington. This opportunity is open to any UK-based creative practitioner, individual or collective and aimed at raising the profile of contemporary arts in Darlington to make a positive impact on the town.

The winners of this prestigious North East contemporary art competition in 2016 were London based artists, Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson. The visionary pair won a bursary of £10,000, to create an exhibition of works to be premiered in Darlington in 2018. The artists were selected from more than 70 applicants from across the UK. The winners first met at Wimbledon School of Art in 1989 and have already begun to make their mark in the art world. The pair’s visual creations have been exhibited across the UK and Europe, featuring at well-known institutions such as the Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Britain, Galerie Nostheide-Eycke in Dusseldorf, Germany and Venlo Stadhuis in the Netherlands. Mallinson is also known for co-directing an artist run project in London that went on to become MOT International, a commercial space that represented two Turner Prize winners. Doyle and Mallinson created a blog about the Dover experience, and the creation of their work based around an old landmark in Darlington – the Bulmer stone: http://doverprize.blogspot.com/2017/

The artists produced a sculptural recreation of the Bulmer stone that will slowly rotate.  The piece is approximately 1.5 x life size and exhibited in a prominent site or different sites around the town. The reason behind the stone rotating is based on the legend that the stone rotates when the clock strikes 12.

A series of prints and hand painted banners are being produced, influenced by protest posters and calling for the Bulmer stone to be released from its present site behind bars on the Northgate road. The original protests occurred when the stone was moved in 1923. Posters and banners will be placed on railings by the actual stone as well as lampposts etc around the town.  As song has been commissioned (possibly involving Tracks/ Tees Music Alliance) and will be performed at the opening of the exhibition.

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

 “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.”

 Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson, Dover Prize Winners, 2016

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. 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.

Photo Credit : Julian Lister, Conversations in Painting Exhibition in Crown Street Gallery

Creative Darlington manages exhibition programmes in the gallery at Crown Street Library, where exhibitions secured 128,000 visits between May 2012 and May 2018, and at Darlington Town Hall, where visitors can enjoy the work on display.  Contact the Creative Darlington Manager, Stephen Wiper via email at stephen.wiper@darlington.gov.uk if you are interested in finding out more about exhibition opportunities.

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.

Conversations in Painting: ‘if it fits in the Fiesta you’re in…’ presented 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 were Sarah Cooney, Deb Covell, Gordon Dalton, Philip Gatenby, Remy Neumann and Alicia Paz. The Conversations in Painting project sought to understand more about how visual arts culture operates in the Tees Valley, especially so through its focus on painting.

Conversations in Painting Photos Credit : Julien Lister

Further information about the project can be found on the project website www.conversationsinpainting.co.uk.

The project catalogue can also be found here.

In July 2017 Gilkes Street Artists brought a group exhibition ‘Commonplace’ to the Crown Street Gallery. Artists included Emma Bennett, Brian Russell, Leanne Jackson, John Wheeler, Jenni Thirlwell, Dianne Bowell , Raymond Husband and Dot Seddon.

Formed in 2012 at The Cleveland Crafts Centre in Middlesbrough, Gilkes Street Artists are a voluntary organisation focusing on providing affordable studio spaces and support for emerging artists and creative professionals.

“The opportunity to exhibit at Crown Street Art Gallery gave the group an incentive to seek out further exhibitions outside Middlesbrough. This resulted in Gilkes Street Artists securing an exhibition of their new work at Kirkleatham Museum in May 2019

Gilkes Street Artists

In partnership with The Auxiliary and The Middlesbrough Arts Weekender, Creative Darlington invited artist Lydia Catterall to host the Middlesbrough Art Weekender Picnic in August 2018 at the Darlington Market. The market played host to Lydia and invited artists to gather, discuss and question art, as part of the extended weekender events.Lydia presented the following questions to an audience of local artists, organisations, curators and visitors

What contribution does art make to a place?
What’s the best thing you’ve been involved in locally?
What do artists in the Tees Valley need most?
What are your hopes for art and culture in the Tees Valley in the next 12 months? Or the next 5 years? Who are you connected to?

These were then further presented back to Creative Darlington.

Creative Darlington are looking forward to further collaborations with The Auxiliary as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2019


The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts is an independent charity based in Darlington, which offers a range of great activity and facilities. Find out more at www.thebridgedarlington.org.uk