Dave the Rave, stotties and Pease pudding among snapshots of Sunderland life in art book
Dave the Rave rubs shoulders with other colourful characters in a book dedicated to the quirkier side of Sunderland.
Last year artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale took over a derelict furniture store in Fawcett Street for a month and turned it into a makeshift gallery that celebrated Sunderland by mixing their own photography with artwork provided by the community.
Images, poems and sculptures contributed to the display which focused on the weird and wonderful side of Sunderland, from pease pudding and stotties to a Mackem nativity and Dave the Rave, a well-known character in the city thanks to his impromptu public dances.
Now those snapshots of city life have been used in a Pride of Place Project book, which will be launched at NGCA gallery in Fawcett Street later this month.
Jan said: “We can’t wait to come back to Sunderland, it’s one of our favourite places, so any excuse to return is good for us.
“We met so many interesting people in the city. Dave the Rave was always popping into Fawcett Street and he still messages us now and says ‘god bless’. He’s very excited about the book coming out.”
The project also included The People’s Map of Sunderland, which saw scores of Wearsiders plot their memories and passions for the city.
“One thing we were really impressed with during our time there was how proud people are of the city,” said Jan. “People whinge about the council wherever you go, but in Sunderland there was also great pride in the history of the place. While we were there we carried out a survey about what people loved about the city and most answers said it was the people.”
Speaking about the City of Culture 2021 bid which, if successful, would see an injection of cultural events, shows, exhibitions, gigs, concerts, festivals and artist residences in Wearside, Jan said: “Anything that would boost Sunderland is a great thing. It’s in a fantastic location with an amazing coastline and great buildings.
“There are so many creative people and projects there and we aimed to bring them together with our project so that people could make new connections.
“We had a bit of a battle on our hands getting reduced business rates for the Fawcett Street shop. We’re just a small, not-for-profit arts project. But I think it’s important to enable creative activity in empty spaces. Thankfully, the council let us in the end.”
The Pride of Place Project pop up gallery coincided with a mobile gallery in the form of a bright yellow caravan which they toured to locations including Penshaw Monument, collecting people’s passions for their home city through their contributions.
Over the course of 18 months, the caravan visited five more towns and cities across England and Wales in a bid to celebrate the extraordinary within the everyday since the turn of the Millennium.
The result is a larger hardback book, featuring all six places, which is titled extra (ordinary).
Last year’s tour also saw an exhibition of the pair’s snapshots of Britain at the NGCA gallery.
Alistair Robinson, director at NGCA, said: “The artists seek out the individual, the unique, the extraordinary, the particular, the personal, the marginalised, the strange, the unpredictable, the unpretentious, the serendipitous, the unintended and the unexpected.” –
“The Sunderland Pride of Project publication is a celebratory documentation of what was seen as a massively successful project for the city and acknowledges the fantastic public response.”
•The Caravan Gallery: Sunderland Pride of Place Project Book Launch will take place at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art on Wednesday, June 22 from 6pm to 8pm. The Sunderland Pride of Place Project book, including images by The Caravan Gallery, will be on sale for £5 at the launch along with copies of extra (ordinary) for £20. There will be refreshments including ham and pease pudding stotties and another opportunity to add to The People’s Map of Sunderland.
Everyone is welcome.