What will be the highlights of the Great Exhibition of the North?

Dominic Wilcox at the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North at The Sage, Gateshead, this mornnig.
Dominic Wilcox at the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North at The Sage, Gateshead, this mornnig.
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An innovative arts project which encouraged children in Sunderland to come up with weird and wonderful inventions has inspired one of the highlights of the Great Exhibition of the North.

It’s been revealed today that the Little Inventors programme by Sunderland-born artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox will be reborn as The Great North Little Inventors 2030 Challenge for the 80-day exhibition which aims to celebrate great art, culture, design and innovation from across the North.

Dominic Wilcox at the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North at The Sage, Gateshead, this mornnig.

Dominic Wilcox at the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North at The Sage, Gateshead, this mornnig.

As part of the challenge, young people aged four to 12 will be asked via the exhibition website to imagine life in the North in 2030 and share their ideas, until March 16, for a chance to have their creations turned into reality in time for the exhibition which runs from June 22 to September 9.

Speaking at the launch at Sage Gateshead, Dominic said: “We’re really excited at Little Inventors to see what sort of inventive and visionary ideas about the future the children in the North of England have got in their brilliant minds. There’s a long and proud history of invention and engineering up here and it’s the young people who are the ones who will carry that on, working hard to make the world a better place through their creative and innovative thinking.

“We’ll be looking for all types of invention during the Great Exhibition of the North, from the perfectly practical to the wonderfully bonkers. Maybe we’ll be using some of the ideas that children come up with in 10 or 20 years. Technology moves so quickly nowadays that in the future, nothing is impossible.”

Other highlights of the exhibition include a Great Northern soundtrack curated by Sunderland-born broadcaster, Lauren Laverne; the return of Stephenson’s Rocket, complete with virtual reality experience; a giant 80ft fountain in the River Tyne and a new solo exhibition from Turner Prize 2017 winner, Lubaina Himid.

Sunderland-born artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox showed pupils one of his inventions as part of an Inventions! project for The Cultural Spring.

Sunderland-born artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox showed pupils one of his inventions as part of an Inventions! project for The Cultural Spring.

Former St Anthony’s pupil Lauren, a broadcaster for stations including BBC 6music, said: “I’m thrilled to be curating the Great Northern Soundtrack at Sage Gateshead as part of Great Exhibition of the North. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the vast array of talent the North of England produces, across a breadth of styles and genres. I’m proud to be representing a series of gigs that highlight the wealth of talent the North has to offer.”

The exhibition is said to be the biggest event in England this year and is free to attend. It will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future.

Hosted at various locations in Newcastle and Gateshead, the event is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors from across the UK and overseas.

Visitors will get the chance to see the best in Northern creativity from pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton to world-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley; live performances from artists such as Roisin Murphy and Kaiser Chiefs; the original character models of Postman Pat; the story of Graphene told through next generation lighting to the world’s most high-tech little black dress and more.

Lauren Laverne

Lauren Laverne

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The North is a hotbed of creativity, with a proud history of innovators, businesses and artists that have shaped how we live today. Not only will the exhibition showcase this incredible diversity, it will also boost tourism and deliver growth to the region. It will celebrate what makes the North such a fantastic place to live, visit, and invest in.”

The Great Exhibition of the North is backed by over £5 million of Government funding and is said to be an example of how the Industrial Strategy is helping to drive growth across the region and promote the innovative businesses and economy of the Northern Powerhouse.

The exhibition will open on June 22 and will run under the headline theme ‘Get North’. As part of the opening event, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture from the Quayside, a brand new film about a journey across the North of England, performances from Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North. The inaugural evening will also bring together art, design, culture and innovation and will reveal content that will be present throughout the 80-day exhibition.

On September 9, the world’s largest half marathon, the Great North Run, will form the centrepiece of the closing weekend.

A giant fountain will be installed on the Tyne

A giant fountain will be installed on the Tyne

Alongside the programme, other elements include activities for families and a business summit to celebrate northern innovation.

The Great Exhibition of the North is expected to bring a £184 million boost to the North East.

*For more information on the Great North Little Inventors visit http://www.littleinventors.org/events/north-2030-challenge/info The deadline for entries is March 16.