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Round the bend? Plan for art studio in toilet block

Victoria Leeks, Jean Lowes and Phil Barker from the East Durham Arts Network outside the former public conveniences at the bottom of Church Street in Seaham.

Victoria Leeks, Jean Lowes and Phil Barker from the East Durham Arts Network outside the former public conveniences at the bottom of Church Street in Seaham.

A CREATIVE collective has found a far from bog standard location to set up a new exhibition space.

East Durham Artists’ Network (Edan) has been searching the area for a suitable home after it decided to look for a more cost-effective and flexible building than its Courtyard Gallery, which it rented in South Terrace, Seaham.

Now the next stage of the project could be just around the bend, as Edan is in negotiations to take on a former toilet block at the end of Church Street, just a short distance away.

It is yet to sign a lease with Durham County Council, which owns the building, but it is hoped the legal agreements can be set out soon.

The art group, which brings together creative people from across the region and has shown work internationally, has stressed plans are in their early stages.

However, it has started to pull together ideas about what the space could be used for, and how the inside of the block can be changed to suit its needs.

Edan will draw on its members’ talents and time, such as one artist who is in the construction business, once proposals are agreed and funds found.

Ceramic artist Victoria Leeks, who is one of its members, said: “We’re thinking about doing workshops for members, we’re exhibiting with a group from Australia next year and we’re also hoping to hold art classes and give artists a base in the area.

“We’ve felt a bit lost without the Courtyard Gallery.

“Seaham is such a beautiful place, we’ve just been trying to get the right spot for us.

“We’ve put in a lot of hours and a lot of people have been looking for the right building.”

Fellow Edan member Barrie West added: “People have already been suggesting some funny names for it.

“It’s taken months and it has been a challenge and we’re yet to sign the lease.

“But it would be a good headquarters for Edan and we’re full of fantastic ideas to get it up and running.

“Next year is going to be such a big year.

“People have said this building has been a bit of a blight because it’s been closed, but I think it’s a nice building and there’s a bit of heritage there.

“What we can do with it depends on money and like most art groups, we don’t have any, and it’s going to happen slowly unless we get a big grant.”

Edan’s former base, which was split into two units, is now home to a jewellers and a tattoo artist.

The Church Street toilet block was closed down following the opening of Bryon Place shopping centre in November 2007.

For more information about Edan, visit Edan.org.uk.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham

 

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