The Journal Culture Awards 2011 were held for the third consecutive year at the Gala Theatre in Durham.
Presented by effervescent performance poet, stand-up comic and Journal columnist Kate Fox, also entertaining the audience were the all-female four-piece group The Cornshed Sisters, clog dancer extraordinaire Laura Connolly who showed everyone just why she had been a finalist in the category of Performing Artist of the Year.
Meanwhile North East music collective Sharks Took The Rest made a welcome return to the event, bringing the evening to a magical close.
The trophies which the winners took home came from Durham print-maker Anja Percival.
Visual Artist of the Year: Richard Forster
Middlesbrough born Richard Forster won this award for his first solo exhibition, Fast and Slow in Middlesbrough gallery mima.
The exhibition was a collection of graphite drawings produced over one year.
Since then he has showcased numerous other works, including a series of three interlinked drawings at the Flag Art Foundation in New York in 2012 and Modern, a collection at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh last year.
Forster has also expressed his detailed talents in several group exhibitions in New York, London’s Tate Britain and other galleries across the country.
Performing Artist of the Year: John Hodgkinson, actor
John Hodgkinson’s role as former politician Chris Mullin in Live Theatre’s A Walk on Part, the stage adaptation of Mullin’s final diaries, won him high praise from several critics as well as the 2011 Culture Performing Artist of the Year award.
With an impressive back catalogue of theatre and film work, Hodgkinson has continued to add to this with stage roles and television parts in BBC drama Silk 2012 and ITV detective programme Whitechapel in 2013.
Hodgkinson also took a part in the action packed hit 2012 James Bond instalment Skyfall.
Newcomer of the Year: Alison Gangel
Alison Gangel’s hard hitting debut book The Sun Hasn’t Fallen from the Sky explored what life was like growing up in the Glasgow care system during the 1970s.
The memoir was so well received it was adapted by BBC Radio 4, which called it their book of the week. The Times called for a sequel, however Gangel insisted that particular story is finished.
Writer of the Year: David Almond
After David Almond’s international success as children’s author, to be recognised in his home town with a 2011 Culture Writer of the year award offered the icing on the cake.
Known best for his book, Skellig, David received this award for his debut adult novel, The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, which was also published in a children’s edition.
In the years since, he has continued his streak as one of the best loved children’s authors with the publication of The Tightrope Walkers - which he wrote mostly in Newcastle’s Lit and Phil; 2012’s The Boy who Swam with Piranhas and Mouse Bird Snake Wolf in 2013.
His latest novel, A Song for Ella Grey explores the myth of Orpheus and was released in late 2014.
David became artistic advisor for the Newcastle and Gateshead children and young people’s festival, Juice in 2014 and was awarded the Writer of the Year Award at the Culture Awards 2014 for penning And Let Us Run, the stirring narrative of the GNR Million Opening Ceremony.
Performance of the Year: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Northern Stage
The classic story of a sparring couple and the breakdown of their marriage during evening drinks with a pair of newlyweds was brought to Newcastle as performers when Northern Stage put on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee’s play was co-produced by Northern Stage and Sheffield Theatres and directed by Erica Whyman, who became artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2013.
The British Theatre Guide described the cast as “exemplary”, while Northern Stage suggested the production resembled both Mad Men and the works of Alfred Hitchcock.
Best Arts and Business Partnership: The Lit and Phil and Brewin Dolphin
In February 2011, Newcastle’s Lit and Phil launched a £1m appeal to both secure its future and develop what it had to offer. Celebrities with good taste such as Alexander Armstrong and Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant offered their support… as did stockbroker, Brewin Dolphin which helped to organise the appeal and pledged to raise the library’s profile with its clients and businesses in the North East.
Best Event Durham: Lumiere
Durham was once again bathed in a wonderful glow when Lumiere returned.
Over four evenings, visitors to the city were invited to roam streets illuminated by 35 different lighting installations – some of them by internationally renowned artists and others by creative newcomers.
Ross Ashton’s Crown of Light at Durham Cathedral made a welcome return visit while there were many examples making use of the art of illumination.
Speaking of the nomination, Kate James, festival and events manager, Durham County Council, said: “150,000 people enjoyed the spectacle that was Lumiere 2011, more than double the number who attended in 2009, which is astounding considering the festival ran for a total of 20 hours!
“The nominations also recognise the calibre of artists, production crew, volunteers and support staff, all of whom made Lumiere possible.”
Arts Council Award: The Turner Prize at BALTIC
For the first time, exhibitions featured in the Turner Prize were allowed to venture out of London and into non-Tate venues. The chosen venue in 2011 was Gateshead’s Baltic for Contemporary Art; the Turner Prize at Baltic event was loved by visitors so much it received an Arts Council award from Culture. With over 140,000 visitors during its time in the North East, the exhibition was a hugely popular part of the region’s art scene. Artists shown included George Shaw, Karla Black, Hilary Lloyd and Martin Boyce who went on to be the overall winner of that year’s Turner Prize. Such a prestigious collaboration proved wondrous for the local gallery, as it created the Turner Prize Café, which travelled across the region engaging local people in debate about modern art. The exhibition is something which is still remembered as one of the Baltic’s greatest achievements. Website: www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/baltic/exhibition/turner-prize-2011 and www.balticmill.com
Twitter: @tate and @balticmill
Best Event Tyneside: The Turner Prize at BALTIC
Following the lead of the Arts Council Award, this went to the fantastic collaboration between the Turner Prize - the world’s most controversial art prize - and Gateshead’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
When The Turner Prize exhibition finally closed its doors more than 145,000 people had been through them. That compares to the 70,000 to 100,000 people who see the prize on average each year at its traditional home in London.
The partnership attracted vast media coverage across the country; this was the first time Turner Prize exhibitions had been showcased outside of London at a non-Tate venue and proved to be phenomenally successful.
The Baltic got to exhibit the work of artists including Karla Black, Hilary Lloyd and George Shaw. Martin Boyce, was crowned the 2011 Turner Prize winner.
Twitter: @tate and @balticmill
Best Event Sunderland: The Split Festival
Sunderland’s very own Split Festival, which debuted in 2009, got its just desserts in 2011. Organised by well-known popular Wearside band The Futureheads, the 2011 event included live music from The Charlatans, Beth Orton, Michelle Stodart and Withered Hand.
The festival continued for a further three years, before ending in 2014 in the city’s Mowbray Park with headliners including Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park and Hyde and Beast.
Best Event Northumberland: The Electric Estate
Cragside was seen in a different light for a second year running when it became a thoroughly Electric Estate.
The National Trust property near Rothbury, was treated to a Northumberland Lights makeover. Inspired by inventor and engineer Lord Armstrong who lived there, a newly designed illuminated trail, entitled Fantasy Forest, was created on which visitors encountered sound and light installations as well as inventions and storytellers, who guided and interacted with them along the way.
The Pinetum, house, cascade and famous Iron Bridge were at the heart of the trail with installations being created by children from Northumberland and Tyneside.
Best Event Teesside: Last Record in Teesside: Sound it Out UK Premiere
A documentary chronicling the day-to-day doings of the last independent record shop in Stockton caught the imagination of the nation, and so deserved a rather lovely screening it its home town.
Jeanie Finlay spent two years making Sound It Out about the shop of the same name – talking to customers about what Tom Butchart’s quirky little shop meant to them as well as observing what went on and exploring the ensuing sadness if it were to ever close.
The film enjoyed its premiere proper at the massive film and music festival South by South West in Austin, Texas… but a regional showing – as part of the Stockton Fringe Festival – was loved by all who were lucky enough to get a ticket.
North East Museum Award: The Anglo Saxon Princess Exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar
The people of Redcar took a step back in time during the Anglo Saxon Princess exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum in East Cleveland.
Featuring precious jewels and artefacts found on an archaeological dig in the area in 2005-2007, which were determined as those belonging to Anglo Saxon royalty, the dig site is thought be an ancient Anglo Saxon royal burial ground that would have belonged to a princess.
The museum brought history to life for many visitors, particularly families and children, who were amazed to see a striking gold pendant, belt buckles and iron knives discovered in their area; the finds were hailed by archaeologists as some of the “rarest in the world”.
The exhibition also featured a short film, 360 degree view of the dig site, an Anglo Saxon style house and the opportunity for children to dress up and get in to the spirit of history.
Best Overall Event: The Turner Prize at Baltic
Special Contribution: Max Roberts
The vast achievements of Live Theatre’s artistic director, Max Roberts, were recognised with the Special Contribution Award, which was given to salute his work with the renowned Newcastle theatre - from stage management and directing to his work as artistic director and nurturing new writing talents such as Lee Hall, Peter Straughan and Michael Chaplin and actors such as Robson Green, Libby Davison, Joe Caffrey and Charlie Hardwick.
A Walk on Part, The Pitman Painters, A Northern Odyssey and a string of classic productions from Tom Hadaway and Alan Plater are among the very many plays Max has been behind at Live Theatre over the years.
For Live Theatre’s 40th anniversary in 2013, he directed Tyne by Michael Chaplin, as well as going on to direct the brilliant (and Culture Award winning) Wet House by Paddy Campbell, Good Timin’ and co-direct Ron Hutchinson’s Flying into Daylight. Max continues to lead the artistic team at Live Theatre.