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Exhibition exploring region's industrial decline opens at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

A new exhibition curated by young Wearsiders at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens explores the region’s industrial decline in the 1980s – while looking ahead to hopes of a shared progressive future.

Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 5:26 pm

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Libita Sibungu, Quantum Ghost (8), (9), (10), 2019. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist. Installation view (detail) at Spike Island, Bristol. Image
courtesy of the artist. Photo: Max McClure.
Libita Sibungu, Quantum Ghost (8), (9), (10), 2019. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist. Installation view (detail) at Spike Island, Bristol. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Max McClure.

Where There’s Space to Grow, curated by Celebrate Different Collective, a group of young people living in Sunderland, has opened at the city centre venue and features work commissioned by Celebrate Different as well as artwork from the prestigious Arts Council Collection.

The National Partners Programme was launched in 2016 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection by creating a network of regional galleries and museums to present and curate exhibitions drawn from the Arts Council Collection. Sunderland Culture, who

deliver the programme in Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, was one of just three organisations nationally chosen by Arts Council Collection.

Rachel Hamer, Young People’s and Community Producer for Sunderland Culture, said: “It’s inspirational to see artworks from the Arts Council Collection sitting alongside work from Sunderland artists and the young people at Celebrate Different have done a brilliant job of

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curating Where There’s Space to Grow.

“The work produced by local artists reveals stories that encourage us to dig deeper into our culture, heritage and surroundings, while the exhibition as a whole champions diversity and asks the question ‘how can we create space for us all to grow.”

The three Celebrate Different commissions were very different in nature.

Last December, the collective commissioned glass artist Anna Selway to work with 14 and 15 year olds from the youth group 1-2 Youth Crew, which is based at Young Asian Voices (YAV) in Sunderland.

Rachel explained: “Anna worked with the group to explore their challenges and hopes for the future, constructing a brick wall of words and phrases that are illuminated by the torchlight from the artwork Casual(ty?) by Liv Preston. The group’s artwork is called De(construct).

The second commission involved young people from Celebrate Different and artists’ collective Foundation Press.

Rachel said: “Thinking about how a sense of place, heritage, identity and belonging felt to them, the group gathered images and textures to collage a series of tiles, which were then printed on to A3 paper to create wallpaper. Foundation Press supported the design process by creating a repeating motif of shapes that nod to historic buildings and landscapes in Sunderland.”

The last commission involved Celebrate Different collaborating with Newcastle-based artist Melody Sproates and Young Art Kommunity (YAK) from Firstsite, Colchester, another venue in the National Partners Programme.

Rachel added: “The collaboration with Melody and YAK looked at Hadrian Piggott’s work, Boy ? Girl from the Arts Council Collection. Unlike the other artworks featured in the exhibition, this piece had no accompanying information, leaving it open to different interpretations.

"Working with Melody Sproates and YAK, the young people from Celebrate Different created a zine filled with collaged artworks and written responses to the artwork.

"Ideas included subverting gender norms in the media and imagining a future with no barriers or boundaries.

“One of the aims of the National Partners Programme was to bring young people from across the country together through the Arts Council Collection – which is exactly what happened here.”

“The exhibition is thought-provoking and explores serious themes that matter to young people and Celebrate Different should be proud of the brilliant exhibition they’ve curated.

"From the outset, the young people said they didn’t want their exhibition to be boring – it’s anything but boring and will certainly spark conversations.”

Where There’s Space to Grow is the fifth in Sunderland Culture’s series of Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibitions and is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The exhibition runs at the museum until Saturday, March 12.

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