Blyth Media Group A Voyage Through Blyth: Its People and Places Art Project

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19/5/2016 by 
5.00 of 12 votes

I  heard a buzz around the community about an art project inspired by the Tall Ships Regatta.  The project is called “A Voyage Through Blyth: Its People and Places”.

 The project’s Facebook page  says that there are four artists leading the project and they are involving community groups, especially in community centres, to produce works of art for exhibition during the Tall Ships Regatta.

 I wanted to go a bit more in depth and put some questions to the group...




Four Artists are mentioned as working on the project on Facebook page - What are their backgrounds and interests? Who are they?


"The four artists are Michele Rickitt, Ann Marie Dalton, Denise Primrose, and Jane Sutcliffe.  Michele, Ann Marie, and Denise work with textiles, and Jane is a contemporary fine artist.  We came together thanks to a bait project that was run at Weave in Lynemouth called the Future Creatives Enterprise Programme (FCPE).  The aim of that project was to teach business and enterprise skills to emerging artists in South East Northumberland.  We were encouraged to develop our own projects from it that would engage local people in art activities, and our Voyage project grew out of that."


Where did the idea come from?


"When we started the FCEP in September 2015 Jane Shaw, the project manager, mentioned the visit of the Tall Ships.  Michele’s husband was working in Blyth at the time.  This was the catalyst for developing a project that would connect local communities to the Regatta using art."


How are the workshops at the Community Centres going, is progress being made as expected?       


"Nothing ever works as expected, despite our best efforts, however we are making progress.  We’ve had one group pull out of the project, which was disappointing, luckily we’ve been able to overcome the problem."


Which groups have got involved?       


"We’ve got the both the Young Environmental Wardens and Bright Beginnings in Northumberland who are based at the Briardale Community Centre; all of the youth groups based at the Buffalo Community Centre; and we’re recruiting older people from a number of care homes and sheltered accommodation facilities in the town."

Bright Beginnings Session

 Bright Beginnings Session


What specific stuff is being created?


"The project is centred around producing three symbolic sails representing the past, present, and future of Blyth. These sails will have words and images printed and stitched onto fabric. They will include the art created by the children, and photographs and stories provided by participants.  As well as the sails we’re having a workshop in June where people can make fabric portholes which will be framed in hoops for the exhibition.  These are examples of the sort of thing that will be made in that workshop."


Where in the Tall Ships Regatta is the exhibition being held?


"The exhibition will be included in the Arts Trail that is being put together for the Regatta, and will then go on tour to the Briardale, Buffalo, and Isabella community centres during September and October.  The work being created by the youth groups at the Buffalo is site-specific and designed specially for their foyer."


How much and what type of art specifically will be exhibited?


"How much art will be displayed is uncertain at the moment.  There will definitely be three sails, and we’re hoping for at least 20 portholes.  It depends how much participation we get."


You have displayed a picture on your Facebook page at St Cuthbert’s Church: what is their involvement?


"St Cuthbert's got in touch with us as they would like to have art in the Church during the Regatta, when it will be open to the public.  We’re developing ideas with them that will fit both the Christian ethos of the Church and the physical space in the building.  The people we’ve met there have been so enthusiastic and welcoming, and we’re delighted to working with them."

Artists in St Cuthbert's Church

 Artists in St Cuthbert's Church

The inspiration for the art is Blyth history? Elaborate on what aspects? Is a story/narrative being told?


"Blyth’s history is the inspiration for the sail that will represent the past, and we want to explore the untold history of the people who live there.  It’s the narrative of people who don't normally have a voice.  We want to tell the stories of everyday life.  I don't want to give too much away at this stage however we have one story involving a precious hand of bananas!"


 "We would like to take the opportunity to thank Blyth Town Council for their ongoing support of the project, and Arts Council England for funding us."

Many thanks to Michele Rickitt for taking the time to answer my questions.

Photos are copyright of A Voyage Through Blyth: Its People and Places Project and the subjects. Reproduced by kind permission.


19/5/2016 20:40
Thank you so much for including our project on the website. We appreciate your interest and we'll keep you updated as the work progresses.


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