New designs celebrate Sunderland’s ‘little palaces’

Paul Swinney with the 24 Hours in Sunderland exhibition in The Bridges featuring photographs by himself and Andy Martin.

Paul Swinney with the 24 Hours in Sunderland exhibition in The Bridges featuring photographs by himself and Andy Martin.

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Sunderland’s ‘little palaces’ are celebrated in a new series of artworks from the man behind the Mackem Dictionary.

Artist Paul Swinney has produced a series of posters featuring the Sunderland Cottage, the terraced homes built for pit and shipyard workers and unique to Sunderland.

Paul Swinney's Sunderland poster

Paul Swinney's Sunderland poster

Paul has created eight separate designs, each representing a different part of the city where the cottages can be found, with individual pieces done for areas such as Fulwell, Southwick and Ryhope.

Paul, 30, works for economic thinktank The Centre for Cites in London but never misses a chance to blow the trumpet for his home city.

As well as the Mackem Dictionary, he has previously produced posters celebrating Seaburn and Fulwell, based on classic railway posters, but admits his latest pieces were inspired by something a little further flung.

“I had done a couple of posters that were like the train adverts you used to see, but have always been taken with old Communist art,” he said.

Paul Swinney's Southwick poster

Paul Swinney's Southwick poster

“Alongside Roker Lighthouse and Penshaw Monument, the Sunderland cottage is an icon of our city, and I wanted to celebrate this through my artwork.

“As cities grew rapidly during the 19th century, a big challenge for them was to house all the new people coming to them.

“Manchester opted for its Coronation Street-style housing. In Newcastle, they went for what is now known as the Tyneside flat.

“But Sunderland was different. We started building cottages.

Paul Swinney's Ryhope poster

Paul Swinney's Ryhope poster

“Although the cottages all follow similar designs, there is a lot of variation between them. And they differ not only in different areas of the city, but also from street to street as different architects stamped their mark.

“I’ve reflected that in the artwork, with the cottages varying subtly between each piece.”

It was moving away that made Paul appreciate how special the Sunderland Cottage actually was: “When you see something every day, you don’t realise how unique it is,” he said.

“It is only when you see it though the context of other places that you realise how different it is.

Paul Swinney's Hendon poster

Paul Swinney's Hendon poster

“The Sunderland Cottage really is something you don’t find in any other part of the country – you look at them from the outside, and they are tiny. Then you go inside and they are massive.”

Prints of Paul’s artwork are available to buy from Pop Recs on Stockton Road and Gray’s Gallery on Sea Road.

Paul Swinney's Fulwell poster

Paul Swinney's Fulwell poster