Sunderland landmark building hosts latest showcase of artwork

Jo Howell, whose #WearExperimenting exhibition has opened at Mackies Corner.
Jo Howell, whose #WearExperimenting exhibition has opened at Mackies Corner.

A display which brings together photography and science has gone on show at an iconic Wearside building.

The #WearExperimenting project was delivered by Sunderland photographic artist Jo Howell on behalf of the Cultural Spring and co-commissioner the North East Photography Network
(NEPN).

Jo Howell, centre, flanked by Emma Scar, left, from the Cultural Spring and Amanda Ritson, right, from NEPN.

Jo Howell, centre, flanked by Emma Scar, left, from the Cultural Spring and Amanda Ritson, right, from NEPN.

The project used a series of experiments to engage as many Wearsiders as possible with photography and science.

Now a month-long exhibition of work produced during the project has opened at Mackie’s Corner on the corner of Fawcett Street and High Street West in Sunderland city centre.

Workshops will continue in the Mackie’s Corner space as art works and photographs created by over 1,000 people from Sunderland will be exhibited in the pop-up shop throughout
November.

Jo said: “The aim of the project was to explore the cross-over of creativity shared by photography and science and to invite the public to share their experience of life in the city.

Artist Jo Howell, centre, with members of the Click Click Club, whose photographers helped the #WearExperimenting project.

Artist Jo Howell, centre, with members of the Click Click Club, whose photographers helped the #WearExperimenting project.

"It came from the seed of an idea that I had started with the Look & Inspire pinhole photography project back in 2015.

“I had started a project taking pinhole photographs of Sunderland, by creating pop-up darkrooms in small spaces across the city.

"The work created through #WearExperimenting is diverse and complex as the many people who came together to create it.

"I have been very privileged to have worked with so many, but it’s not over yet.

“People can still create work with me and the associate artists throughout this month in Mackie’s Corner shop, and you can still post your pictures using #wearexperimenting."

Emma Scarr, project co-ordinator for the Cultural Spring, added: “We are thrilled with the work that Jo has created with the people of Sunderland over the past 6 months.

"Over 1,000 people have experienced the pop up studios and workshops in their communities.

“Even though we are coming to the end of the commission we believe that the positive impact relationships developed over this time will continue to have an impact on these communities.

"We have had great support from community venues and events.

"We are very grateful to The Bridges for providing space for Jo to do her pop up events and display her artworks."

Amanda Ritson, programme manager at NEPN, said: “The WearExperimenting project feels like a movement and something with real potential to exist long-after the commission closes, engaging many different groups, inspiring those who may not have previously explored photography in this way and nurturing and connecting with others to help them to extend their skills and find their photographic voice.”

There will also be a free series of workshops programmed for the rest of the month in Mackie’s Corner with a number of sessions with Jo and associate artists supported
through the project.

Jo will be offering workshops on cyanotype book-making, creating and using pinhole cameras and photo walks.

There will also be creative writing with James Whitman and poetry with Ian Horn.

Associate artists Ben Freeth, Graham Patterson, Nicola Maxwell and Michael Davidson will also be offering photo-walks, ‘zine-making workshops using photographic prints and a ‘science of seeing’ workshop in which new cameras will be made by participants.

Full details, times and bookings can be found on www.wearexperimenting.co.uk or theculturalspring.org.uk/event/wear-experimenting/

Mackie's Corner has previously been used as an exhibition space by Sunderland Indie.

It comes as the long-term use for the building is considered.

Read more: Brewery, distillery, shops and hotel among ideas to restore Sunderland’s historic Mackie’s Corner

Funding for the project has come from NEPN and the Cultural Spring, and has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Sunderland Culture have supported the use of Mackie’s Corner through the Great Place programme, which is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and ACE.

The Cultural Spring is an Arts Council England (ACE) funded project, which aims to increase participation in the arts both in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Its four partners are the University of Sunderland; the Customs House, South Shields, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s
health organisation.

The project works with five wards in Sunderland and five in South Tyneside.