SLIDESHOW: Sunderland memories immortalised in glass

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Today nostalgia writer Sarah Stoner raises a glass to a new history project.

WEARSIDERS are being urged to take a trip down memory lane and play their part in the transformation of a city attraction.

Glass blowing no date old ref number 15-1661

Glass blowing no date old ref number 15-1661

The National Glass Centre (NGC) is to re-open this summer following a £2.2million revamp to create new galleries for historical and contemporary glass.

But the help of Echo readers is needed first – to provide inspiration for a unique new exhibit, Your Sunderland, for the centre’s opening in June.

“We are inviting people to play their part in the transformation by sharing their stories and compelling memories of Sunderland,” said director James Bustard.

“These memories will then be brought to life by glass artist Cate Watkinson in the Your Sunderland exhibit, which will be unveiled when the venue re-opens.”

The NGC, which is part of Sunderland University, closed to the public in January to allow work to begin on remodelling the entire upper floor.

In addition to a new heritage gallery, the revamp includes upgrading education rooms, improving teaching facilities and creating extra floorspace for exhibitions.

“The redevelopment will allow NGC to fulfil its potential as a cultural visitor attraction of international standing,” said Mr Bustard. “It will also strengthen its relationship with the people who live, work and socialise in Sunderland and help it become a valued asset to the culture of the community.

“To play a part in this relationship, Your Sunderland invites the people of Wearside to tell the centre what the area means to them.

“Whether it’s the cultural, sporting or industrial heritage, the nightlife or music scene, all memories will build a picture of what it means to be part of a vibrant area.”

Wearsiders are invited to jot down their city memories in letters, essays, poems or even by using photographs – whichever method helps paint the most vivid stories.

All submissions will be examined by Cate, a senior lecturer in architectural glass at Sunderland University, before she creates the new Your Sunderland artwork.

Once complete, her piece, which will feature glass crafted from new and traditional glass-making techniques, will be showcased in a prominent spot at the centre.

It will then remain on display until the autumn, when the artwork will move to the University’s Study Collection and become “forever embedded” into the history of the building.

“I am very excited to be working on a commission which expresses people’s personal experience of Sunderland,” said Cate.

“Having lived and worked in Sunderland for 25 years I feel privileged to be able to put some of my own experiences and the experiences of the community into this artwork.”

Julia Stephenson, head of arts, added: “I am delighted Cate has agreed to be involved. She is a highly skilled and creative artist who has detailed knowledge of Sunderland. Cate’s work often responds to the geographical landscape and I am very much looking forward to seeing how she responds to people’s thoughts and memories of their city.”

Memories and stories should be emailed to or posted to: National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL.

Photocopies or digital versions of photos and memorabilia to be sent, as the return of originals is not guaranteed. The closing date for entries is May 6.

“Through Your Sunderland we hope to engage with people across Wearside and encourage them to play their part in this exciting journey in the redevelopment of NGC,” said James.

“I’ve no doubt we’ll attract some fascinating memories from the people of Sunderland, who will play a huge part in the future success of the centre.”

l Further details on Your Sunderland and how to make submissions are available from Sara Jo Harrison on: 0191 515 5555.