Historic city centre building once frequented by Joseph Swan to be brought back to life

Zoe Anderson from Breeze Creatives (front) with Sunderland BIDs Ken Dunbar (left) and Gemma Dishman (right)

Zoe Anderson from Breeze Creatives (front) with Sunderland BIDs Ken Dunbar (left) and Gemma Dishman (right)

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A historic city centre building and a drone film of the River Wear caught the eye of judges in a Dragon’s Den style arts competition.

The Pilgrim Rooms within the Atheneum Building on Fawcett Street, where electric lightbulb inventor Joseph Swan used to attend lectures, will be revamped after BID/Breeze were announced as one of the winners in the 10x10 competition.

John Seager of Siglion, with artist Dominic Smith

John Seager of Siglion, with artist Dominic Smith

The rooms have fallen into disrepair over the years, but will be brought back to life by the BID/Breeze partnership to stage events.

A drive-in movie, called between Wind and Water for which artist Dominic Smith has collated drone footage of the River Wear, was also chosen as a winner.

The artist combines drone footage with collected stories to explore the city’s proud heritage for the film which will be shown as a drive-in movie later in the year, as well as at the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival this weekend.

Earlier this year ten Wearside organisations were partnered with ten regional artists to develop individual arts projects for the contest.

After impressing judges, BID/Breeze and Wind and Water have now been commissioned by Sunderland Cultural Partnership for paid residencies worth £7,500 each.

Gemma Dishman, of Sunderland BID, said: “We’re delighted that the BID/Breeze partnership was successful. It’s an ambitious project that will capture the imagination of the public and bring back to life a prominent, historic building for the city. The Pilgrim Building is such a lovely space to open up

“There will be three events taking place in the Pilgrim by the end of this year. The first will look at Joseph Swan’s connection to the building and his role in the development of photography.

“The second event will look at new technology and the third will be a commissioned event bringing masterpieces to life through sculptures.

“We’re also hoping that this could be the gateway to a longer-term project, creating a gallery and artists’ studios in the building – which would be a great legacy for the 10x10 project.”

Dominic Smith said he’d thoroughly enjoyed working on the 10x10 project and had been inspired by his partnership with Siglion.

“My film will make clear the connection between Sunderland’s history and its present as a place filled with creativity and ingenuity,” he said.

“Between Wind and Water will use drone footage to show the changing landscape from a bird’s eye view. The footage will be edited alongside recorded stories that connect Sunderland’s past and present during a period of change. It will be a unique journey down the Wear that shows us how history flows from the future to the past.

“Working on the project really brought something home to me that we all know but don’t talk about loudly enough - Sunderland is a city of makers. It has a proud history of people working together to make big exciting things happen.”

The 10 x10 programme is the first strand of 100 Artists into 100 Businesses, a key initiative of the North East Cultural Partnership.

Sunderland Cultural Partnership is a collaboration led by the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, with support from Arts Council England, which brings together cultural organisations across the city. In 2014 it launched a new, shared vision for culture and has recently announced it will bid for the title of UK City of Culture 2021.