Trap your memories in glass for new Sunderland exhibition

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WEARSIDERS are today invited to play their part in the multimillion-pound transformation of the National Glass Centre by sharing their stories and memories of Sunderland.

These memories will then be reshaped to create a unique glass exhibition, called Your Sunderland, to be unveiled when the newly refurbished venue re-opens in the summer.

The £2.2million redevelopment the centre is currently undergoing aims to create a cultural visitor attraction of international standing and strengthen its relationship with people who live, work and socialise in Sunderland.

To play a part in this relationship, Your Sunderland invites people to say what the city means to them.

Whether it’s the area’s cultural, sporting, industrial or historical heritage, the nightlife, music scene or even just a favourite part of the city, all memories will build a picture of what it means to be part of Wearside.

Your entry could involve writing just a few sentences, sending in your photographs, an extract from a letter or a favourite event.

From these memories, glass artist Cate Watkinson, a senior lecturer in architectural glass at Sunderland University, will bring Your Sunderland to life.

Cate will design a colourful glass exhibit, using new and traditional glass-making techniques.

The exhibit will be showcased on the wall leading into the Learning Studio when the centre reopens in June, and will remain on display until the autumn, when it will then become part of the University’s Study Collection and forever embedded into the history of the building.

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

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

Julia Stephenson, head of arts at the centre, added: “We are really looking forward to working with Cate.

“I’m delighted that she has agreed to be involved as she is such a highly skilled and creative artist who has detailed knowledge of Sunderland.  

“Her work often responds to the geographical landscape, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how she responds to people’s thoughts and memories of their city.”

James Bustard, National Glass Centre director, added: “Through Your Sunderland we hope to engage with people across Wearside and encourage them to play their part in this exciting journey in the National Glass Centre redevelopment.

“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 National Glass Centre.”

The project will focus on a new heritage gallery within the centre that will be created alongside an extensive range of learning activities.

The new exhibition spaces, which will showcase the origins of glass, the growth of the glass industry and the legacy of glass making in Sunderland, will help boost the centre’s visitor numbers.

How to be part of it

TO feature in Your Sunderland, email your memories to or post them to: National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL.

Include your name, address and a daytime telephone number.

National Glass Centre cannot guarantee the return of original copies of photos and memorabilia, and requests entrants send through digital versions or printed hard copy.

The closing date for entries to Your Sunderland is May 6.