Sunderland designer brings inspiration back home after working for Paul Smith, Jaffa Cakes and BMW

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A celebrated artist who blurs the line between art and invention is returning to his home city to help spark youngsters’ creativity.

Former St Aidan’s pupil Dominic Wilcox has forged a strong name in the arts world, creating waves with his ingenious and often wacky inventions.

His creations have caught the eye of a diverse range of clients who’ve commissioned his works, from designer Paul Smith and fashion emporium Selfridges to BMW and Jaffa Cakes.

He’s also had work exhibited in some of the world’s greatest galleries including Centre Pompidou in Paris and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Now Dominic, from the Elstob Farm estate, has teamed up with the Cultural Spring to inspire the next generation of inventors.

He will be leading Autumn Lights, the next major commission from Cultural Spring, being run in conjunction with National Glass Centre.

Dominic’s project – Inventors! – will start next month when he and creative specialists Steam Co will host workshops at schools in Sunderland and South Tyneside to get young people inventing their own creations.

Dominic, who is now based in London, said: “Children are born with wonderful imaginations and come up with really great inventions and crazy ideas. Because they’re not encouraged enough, they lose interest in using and feeding their imaginations which is a great shame. Inventors! aims to stimulate ideas and new inventions from young people and show that anything can be possible.”

Dominic’s own weird and wonderful creations include a stained-glass sleeper car of the future; GPS shoes and luxury skimming stones.

The best ideas from the workshops will go forward to a panel. The chosen ideas will then be manufactured by local companies and craftsmen who will be asked to create working prototypes.

The inventions will then be showcased in an exhibition held locally alongside some of Dominic’s own inventions and artwork.

The Cultural Spring is a three-year Arts Council funded project to boost arts participation in selected wards in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

It’s already brought a number of successful events to the city, including the Summer Streets music festival in Southwick.

The project has also announced its Winter Tales commission, which has been won by Mr Drayton’s Entertainments.

Mr Drayton Entertainments will deliver a human jukebox, as Steve Drayton, BBC Radio Newcastle producer, comedian and music aficionado, explained: “The brief was to come up with an idea to engage people in the ten Cultural Spring wards and encourage them to tell stories. We wanted to make it fun and easy for a wide range of people to take part. So we decided to create a human jukebox.

“Between September and January we will invite local people, artists, students, businesses, school groups and other music fans and amateur story tellers to select a song that has been significant to them, and tell us their three-minute story.”

In February 2016, these storytellers will be united, joining Mr Drayton in his Human Jukebox, to perform in a live theatrical extravaganza.

As part of the Winter Tales, theatre company Wildworks will also be creating an event. A Great Night Out will be an evening of memories, laughter, music and storytelling.