Loo-vre? Disused toilets become arts centre

Kay Robson Supervisor of the new East Durham Artists' Network Art Block on Church Street, Seaham, with EDAN secretary Phil Barker.
Kay Robson Supervisor of the new East Durham Artists' Network Art Block on Church Street, Seaham, with EDAN secretary Phil Barker.
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DISUSED toilets converted into an arts centre could inspire the next Pab-loo Picassso!

That’s the hope of the East Durham Artists’ Network (Edan) which has turned the former public conveniences on Church Street, Seaham, into its new headquarters, with the building to be officially launched next month.

Phil Barker, secretary of East Durham Artists' Network EDAN, in the new Art Block on Church Street, Seaham.

Phil Barker, secretary of East Durham Artists' Network EDAN, in the new Art Block on Church Street, Seaham.

During the last seven months, it has been working on the unit, leased to it by Durham County Council, making it into a flexible space which will be used for creative activities.

The organisation said it has had positive feedback to the changes it has made so far and has called the base the Art Block.

Phil Barker, a member of the group, said: “We will soon be running workshops and activities for all age groups and levels of confidence.

“We aim to run exhibitions for the 52 weeks of the year so there should always be something to see even if you don’t wish to get your hands dirty.

“There are still a few bits to tweak here and there, but we will be finished before the grand opening on May 3.

“We are on track to be ready on time for our extra special guest artists and visitors to have an excellent day with us at Art Block.”

The building’s first exhibition is called Internationally Local and features three artists who work in the North East, but have gained a following and reputation abroad.

Joss Wrigg creates animated wool sculptures, Manny Ling specialises in the use of calligraphy and Helena Seget is a fine artist and designer who works with clay.

Phil added: “We chose these artists as they span many different aspects of the visual arts and stand as living proof of the success manageable from living in the North East. We want to celebrate creativity, localism and the success that is possible from both.”

Edan launched a search for a new base which would be more flexible and cost-effective than its former space, The Courtyard Gallery, at the rear of South Terrace.

It will draw on its members expertise, such as experienced builders, to make improvements to the building, which was closed as a public convenience in 2007 when Byron Place shopping centre opened, offering access to toilets over a longer period of the day and seven days a week.

For more information about EDAN visit www.edan.org.uk.