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Culture Awards Alumni: The Class of 2009

Matt Stokes, Sarah Millican, Culture Shock, The Great North Museum: Hancock and the Northern Print Biennale were all winners

The Journal Culture Awards 2009 were held, for the first time, at the Gala Theatre in Durham.

Presented by BBC Tees presenter, Bob Fischer for the second time, the audience saw performances from Kate Fox, Katie Doherty, DJ and rapper Fred Phethean and breakdancing champions Bad Taste Cru (who wowed the audience with their wares, before being joined by some aspiring young performers in an excerpt-in-progress from the Durham Mysteries), 15-year-old pianist Jess Ng and Gateshead-bred band, Smoove ‘n’ Turrell.

The trophies were designed and made by ceramicist Julia Roxburgh.

Visual Artist of the Year: Matt Stokes

An artist who’s work has always featured strong links to musical subcultures, 2009 saw Matt Stokes gaining the Northern Art Prize People’s vote and producing The Gainsborough Packet, a nine-minute Super 16 film based on a letter found in the Tyne and Wear Archives. It was written in 1928 by a man called John Burdikin and spoke of the adventures he’d had.

The letter provided the basis for the film’s script and the project was completed at the end of a year long research and development phase. The piece was a co-commission from Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and London Gallery 176.

Since winning at the Culture Awards, Matt has had a number of solo exhibitions and completed a host of commissions.

Most recently he unveiled the second in a new series of co-productions: Cantata Profana: a six screen video and sound installation focusing on the physicality of extreme metal vocalists and the ability of their voices to immerse a listener and transcend both the individual performer and group.

The exhibition ran in parallel with a new commission of work at Matt’s Gallery, Madman in a Lifeboat (1 April–24 May 2015). The presentation of both works across east and south London this spring marked the culmination of Stokes’ year-long Bartlett fellowship.

Website: www.contemporaryartsociety.org/artist-members/matt-stokes/

South Shields' Sarah Millican is flying the flag for girl comics, but I do long for the day when no flag is required
South Shields' Sarah Millican is flying the flag for girl comics, but I do long for the day when no flag is required

Performing Artist of the Year: Sarah Millican

After winning the Newcomer of the Year Award at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 for her show Not Nice, 2009 was vital for Sarah Millican. Spring saw her preview her second Fringe show, Typical Woman to great applause at Live Theatre. She also made her way to the TV with performances on Live at the Apollo and an appearance on Mock the Week as well as writing and starring in her Radio 4 comedy show, Support Group.

After her award-winning year in 2009, Sarah Millican achieved mainstream success and is now one of the most recognisable people working in comedy in the UK. She starred in three series of her eponymous television programme and regularly sells out UK tours of more than 150 dates.

Her tour DVDs - of which there are now three - are a regular Christmas presents for comedy fans and Sarah continues to pepper the small screen with appearances on panel and game shows, stand up galas and charity telethons such as Comic Relief and Children in Need. In February 2013 she was named one of the UK’s most powerful women by Women’s Hour

Website: www.sarahmillican.co.uk/

Twitter: @SarahMillican75

Performance of the Year: Cassop and Coal

A performance based on the impact that the story of coal has had on the lives of those living in Cassop Village in County Durham, this 75-minute piece by Tin Arts consisted of seven stories taking place in seven different locations throughout the village.

The production took audiences on a journey through the village in an attempt to provoke the imaginations of the audience and help them to understand the rich history of the coal industries. The soundtrack was composed and played by Katie Doherty.

Tin Arts remain an inclusive dance organisation based in Durham City who have a number of performances coming up throughout the rest of 2015, and continue to offer many opportunities for people of all ages to get involved.

Website: www.tinarts.co.uk/

Twitter: @Tinarts

Sophie Lisa Beresford
Sophie Lisa Beresford

Newcomer of the Year: Sophie Lisa Beresford

After spending two years working as an artist, producing a whole manor of works, Sophie received due recognition in 2009 with her piece My Culture is Beautiful.

The piece was about contrasting traditional ideas of culture informed by Sophie’s personal experiences.

It took the form of a film that showed her dancing to Spanish Makina Music. At the time of her nomination Sophie said: “It is beautiful to be nominated for an award for what you do. It has let me know that my work is more widely appreciated than I knew.”

Sophie’s work has continued to excite audiences and along the way she has taken up the alter-ego Sophie Aurora, producing fantasy works that use science to bridge the gap between what is and is not real.

Website: www.workplacegallery.co.uk/artists/35-sophie-lisa-beresford/biography/

Writer of the Year: Richard Millward

Inspired by what he called the region’s unique blend of “Grimness and if you like, unflinching hilarity and optimism”, Apples author Richard Millward’s second novel Ten Storey Love Song was an often funny look at life lived in high-rise flats in Middlesbrough, and came as a result of the opportunity Richard had to view the culture of his hometown from the outside after moving to London.

Richard released a third novel in 2012 called Kimberly’s Capital Punishment. With six different endings the book was something of a narrative experiment similar to a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ book. Richard has also had a number of short stories published since 2009, some of which are available in full on his website.

Website: www.richardmilward.com/

Twitter: @richard_milward

Best Arts and Business Partnership: John Lewis and Tyne and Wear Museums

Every person has a story to tell and this partnership, resulting in a project called Culture Shock, gave the people in Tyne and Wear a platform to tell the stories they had to tell.

The project recorded participants as they recollected their memories, and resulted in more than 500 videos. It was billed as one of the biggest digital story-telling collections in the world.

At the time John Lewis communication coordinator said that the project had “been a rewarding experience and a great learning curve for those who took part and it cemented our relationship even further”.

Websites: www.twmuseums.org.uk and www.johnlewis.com

Twitter: @TWArchives

The Great North Museum Hancock
The Great North Museum Hancock

North East Museum Award: Great North Museum: Hancock

After three years, the Great North Museum finally re-opened it’s doors and was hugely successful in doing so. With over 10,000 visitors on the opening weekend alone, the museum combined the collections of the Hancock Museum, the Museum of Antiques and the Shefton Greek Museum for a total of over 3,500 exhibits focusing on our planet throughout it’s history.

The re-opened museum exceeded all expectations over the course of it’s first year with communications officer saying at the time “While we knew it would be popular, we never anticipated numbers like this”.

The Museum remains a success and has housed a fantastic range of exhibits in the years since it’s re-launch.

Highlights from its collections include a a life-size T-Rex dinosaur replica skeleton, a large-scale interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall, major displays showing the wonder and diversity of the animal kingdom, spectacular objects from the Ancient Greeks and mummies from Ancient Egypt, a life size elephant and a planetarium.

Website: www.twmuseums.org.uk/great-north-museum.html

Twitter: @GNM_Hancock

Arts Council Award: Northern Print Biennale

Made a reality by Stepney Bank based Printmakers Northern Print, this event took place across three galleries in Newcastle and was the largest scale UK print event for 20 years.

As well as featuring exhibitions, workshops and symposiums in the three galleries, the Northern Print Biennale centrepiece was print competition that attracted over 800 entries from 32 countries. The event was a fantastic opportunity for artists to bring their work to a larger audience and it helped to shine a light on the talent in the North East.

The event returned in 2011 with a total audience of over 153,000 people making their way from all over the world to see print events across the region. In 2014, the festival came back again featuring the International Print Awards.

Websites: www.internationalprintbiennale.org.uk and www.northernprint.org.uk

Twitter: @NorthernPrint

Best Event Northumberland: Re-garrisoning of Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s wall once again saw battle in the 2009 May half term as almost 500 performers took on the roles of the Romans and various other armies in order to re-enact some of the events that took place across various locations along the wall.

At the time Culture Magazine said that the highlight was ‘a 90-minute pageant in Corbridge, which brought together all performers and re-enactors in a spectacular show of music, drama and technical wizardry’.

Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall

Young people learn how to break dance at Dance City as part of the Juice Festival
Young people learn how to break dance at Dance City as part of the Juice Festival

Best Event Tyneside: Juice Festival

Though it was Juice Festival’s second year, 2009 marked the first time that the festival took place over the course of the Autumn half term.

The festival providing an exciting set of events and activities that were not only aimed at children and young people as audiences but also at encouraging their creativity by featuring them in key roles at the events themselves.

With events such as nine-year-olds giving haircuts and teenagers writing poetry on the Metro - this was the year that the festival really secured it’s identity as one that ‘Celebrates the creativity of children and young people’.


2009’s re-thinking of the festival’s format as an Autumn half term event has carried on over the years which have passed since.

Juice is now a staple of the autumn culture calendar for families across the North East and continues to feature new commissions and a number of opportunities for children and young people interested in the arts to get involved.

One of these opportunities is the ‘take over’ of the October Culture magazine.

In addition, the 2014 festival saw award winning children’s author, David Almond come on board as Juice’s first artistic advisor.

Website: www.newcastlegateshead.net/juice-home

Twitter: @JuiceFestival

Best Event Sunderland: Rank: Picturing the Social Order

Looking at the way in which society over the last 500 years has shaped identity, Rank: Picturing the Social Order brought together a series of works at Sunderland’s Northern Gallery for Contemporary arts, each produced between 1516 and 2009. The collected works provided an illustration of the ways society has changed over the centuries and the ways in which the old influences the new.

Website: www.ngca.co.uk

Twitter: @NGCAsunderland

"I" on the Bill Bryson Library, Durham University, in Durham, one of the installations in the Lumiere Festival
"I" on the Bill Bryson Library, Durham University, in Durham, one of the installations in the Lumiere Festival

Best Event Durham: Lumiere

The breathtaking illumination of Durham Cathedral with images from the Lindisfarne Gospels was just one of the many events at this November festival that focused on using light in unique ways to create and enhance performance and art work.

The festival was the work of the arts company Artichoke who produced a four day programme that consisted of work by 50 Artists and lit up public spaces in a range of exciting ways.

The festival has returned to Durham twice since it’s first run in 2009, gaining regular praise for being ‘astounding’. It will return again in late 2015 (November 12-15), though when it comes to all other programme information, we are being kept in the dark.

Website: www.lumiere-festival.com/

Twitter: @artichoketrust

Best Event Teesside: Modern Times at Mima

Designed to tie a Gerhard Richter exhibition of the same name, the end result of Modern Times was a 12-page long newspaper printed in colour and produced by a group of local young people aged 14-21 who were interested in writing, journalism and photography.

On top of featuring content created entirely by the group of young people, the paper also utilised the groups experience of the Richter’s exhibition in helping audiences interpret the exhibition.

Website: www.visitmima.com/

Twitter: @mimamodernart

Kathryn Tickell by John Cogan
Kathryn Tickell by John Cogan

Special Contribution to North East arts and culture: Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell’s Culture Awards recognition came after a year that began with her receiving the Queen’s Medal for Music and ended with her leading a line up of the region’s most recognisable musicians - including Sting and Thea Gilmore - in playing a gig at Sage Gateshead to celebrate the venue’s fifth anniversary.

But these were only a small part of the reason Kathryn was recognised for her Special Contribution Award in 2009.

Well known for her mastery of her signature instrument the Northumbrian pipes, she has spent her career not only perfecting her own musical talents but has also put considerable time and effort into encouraging young musicians, particularly Folkestra at Sage Gateshead.

September 2009 also saw her appointed artistic director of Folkworks - an organisation that played a key role in setting up Sage Gateshead.

Since 2009, Kathryn Tickell released a solo album, Northumbrian Voices before being joined by her touring ensemble ‘The Side’ for her 2014 album Kathryhn Tickell and the Side.

As well as releasing albums she has continued to tour - with live shows coming up during summer 2015 and compose. In 2012 Kathryn composed the National Youth Theatre production Northern Fantasia. She has also continued to work with other musicians and had a key role in Sting’s musical theatre production The Last Ship. In 2015, Kathryn was awarded an OBE for her services to folk music.

Website: www.kathryntickell.com/home

Twitter: @kathryntickell

Best Overall Event: Juice Festival


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