The Journal Culture Awards 2014 took place in the beautiful setting of Sunderland Minster on June 30, 2015.
As the curtain came down on the event, which was bathed in sunshine, it was clear to everyone there that it had been an evening to remember for all the best reasons.
As well as handing out 16 trophies - made by Gateshead artist Corinne Lewis-Ward thanks to support from Historic England - across categories including Visual Artist of the Year, Performing Artist of the Year, Writer of the Year and Best Events across Northumberland, Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the audience were treated to a stellar line up of performances.
Performing Artist of the Year Nadine Shah took to the stage, as did fellow finalist Hyde and Beast (with the Whitburn Singers), Richard Dawson - who performed a duo of a cappella songs which captivated the crowd; author David Almond and pupils from Newcastle’s Hawthorn Primary School.
The Journal Culture Awards 2014 were supported by associate sponsors, See It Do It Sunderland, the North East Cultural Partnership, a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England, and venue sponsorship from Sunderland BID.
Visual Artist Of The Year: Magdalene Odundo
Magalene Odundo, OBE, grew up and studied in India and Kenya, but moved to England in 1971 to complete courses in Fine Art and Graphic Design. She is known as one of Britain’s leading artists working in ceramics, but in recent years she has explored the potential of glass within her artistic practice, culminating with the installation Transition II, which was shown, for the first time, at National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
Transition II, made of one thousand glass pieces aspired to make work that recognises human endeavor and instinct for its survival. It acknowledges the importance of writing a human history through making cultural objects, sharing of ideas and skills and, simply celebrating the pleasure of making art.
Transition II made up part of a three-part exhibition, featuring two further installations, Metamorphosis and Transformation and Transition I.
Magdalene says: “I am absolutely thrilled to be nominated for the Journal Culture Award. I am proud that the exhibition Tri-part-it-us has been recognized by this nomination in the North-East. I wanted the exhibition Tri-part-it-us to be an immersive public cultural experience.
“The exhibition achieves this ambition and I believe that Transition II, the centerpiece of this trio was powerful and magical. It succeeded in creating that elusive mystery that glass does create as a material. I liked the fact that the installation allowed everyone to be part of the work, to transit and to travel within and without the space.
“The nomination is an endorsement of an excellent collaborative project in cultural public art practice.
“Sunderland has a long historic glass making tradition, I feel very privileged to have been invited to collaborate with the National Glass Centre in making this work, I loved my time here in the North-East and am very grateful to every one at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, UCA and everyone involved in the project for their support and enthusiasm.”
Performing Artist Of The Year sponsored by Ward Hadaway: Nadine Shah
Since the critically acclaimed release of her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad in 2013, Nadine Shah’s dark and jazz-dipped chamber pop has been required listening for many a music lover.
Her sound has been compared to that of musical greats PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, but, with the release of her second album Fast Food, Whitburn-born Nadine has come into her own.
2014 saw her complete a European tour, perform at festivals aplenty (including the inaugural BBC6 Music Festival in Manchester, which of course served as a precursor to it coming to Tyneside in 2015) and release Stealing Cars - the first single off the new album, which got its official release in Spring 2015, just as an audience at Gateshead Old Town Hall were treated to a live rendition.
Nadine’s powerful and soulful voice lends itself well to the sound of her new album which The Guardian called “passion-drenched yet poised”; Shah confessed this release is a reflection on complicated relationships and she hopes fans will feel “empowered” by the new sound, as well as inclined to dance.
Performance of the Year, sponsored by Barbour: Mamela
Mamela (meaning ‘listen’ in isiXhosa) was a passionate and inspirational piece of verbatim theatre telling the true stories of young women from the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
It was presented at Live Theatre, Newcastle by Curious Monkey theatre company, as part of Afrovibes Festival in 2014, marking the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa.
Using dialogue direct from interviews, the production powerfully told of the experiences, opinions and aspirations of the female participants, some born at the end of the Apartheid era and others representing the ‘Born Free’ generation of democratic South Africa.
Their stories mixed moving personal testimonies about their lives, reflections on religion, politics and men, culminating in the ultimately uplifting dreams for both themselves and their country.
The project was a truly international collaboration between artists from the UK and South Africa fusing new writing with traditional African song and dance, and the resulting performance was lived up to it.
Newcomer of the Year: Heather Carroll
An ever-changing face in the Peter Mortimer production of Death at Dawn - a re-examination of the 100-year-old controversy of British soldiers being executed during the First World War for military offences - Heather Carroll played almost every female role.
During the play, which was performed at the Linskill Centre in North Shields, the actress was responsible for providing much of the emotion behind the soldiers in the trenches, portraying the love and despair of a number of characters.
The play focused on the story of local soldier William Hunter, who was shot by his own battalion for desertion offences in 1916.
With only time for a quick, superficial costume change between roles, Heather convincingly brought several characters to life, including local girl Bella, Canadian Juliette and Claudette in France.
A young actress rapidly gaining experience, her performance in Death at Dawn was certainly stand out.
Writer of the Year: David Almond
A sell-out crowd on the banks of Newcastle and Gateshead marvelled at the spectacular telling of the epic tale of the North East during the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony.
Devised by Bradley Hemmings and written by acclaimed and multi-award-winning children’s author David Almond (Skellig, Heaven Eyes, Kit’s Wilderness) it was a tale of creativity, grit and ingenuity.
From the dawn of time through to the millionth finish of the Bupa Great North Run, this was a story drenched in energy, endeavour and inspiration. Narrated by Jill Halfpenny and Tim Healy, the performance featured live music from Sting, Mark Knopfler, The Unthanks and Chase and Status.
David began his career locally with a collection of short stories for adults which was published by Iron Press. His career has gone on to scale international heights, but the Felling-born writer has never left the region he loves.
Currently writing an Opera For Sunderland, we’re thrilled to have David performing an exclusive extract during the Culture Awards 2014 ceremony at Sunderland Minster on June 30.
Best Arts and Business Partnership: Port of Tyne and Various Partners
In 2014, the Port of Tyne teamed up with The Customs House to support a year-long programme of events and exhibitions at the theatre in South Shields. It was the latest initiative in a long relationship with the venue, which has included arts projects such as Piers In, Cargos, Coat for a Boat and more recently Songs from the Shipyards, Tyne by Michael Chaplin and the Great North Passion.
The latest partnership kicked off with Follow the Herring a project combining singing, arts, crafting and knitting centred on the heritage of East coast fishing towns and communities. Touring from May 2014 it will travel from Musselburgh in Scotland and down England’s East coast, ending in Hastings in August 2014.
This was just one example of the Port’s continuing support to the arts and culture sector (and its associated scene), which has enabled and enhanced a melting pot of projects in the North East.
The Port’s support of the arts contributes to its key role in supporting communities along the river and its surrounding areas.
Other cultural partnerships during 2014 included ones with AV Festival, Baltic, Juice Festival, the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony, the Mouth of the Tyne Festival, Live Theatre, Tyneside Cinema and Newcastle Theatre Royal.
And then there was their own Reflect photography awards and the ongoing Writer in Residence programme, which has seen Michael Chaplin celebrate the history and culture of Tyneside, focusing on the river which runs through it.
North East Museum of the Year: Stand Up for Woodhorn
Learning through laughter proved highly effective and enjoyable during the Stand Up for Woodhorn project at the Ashington museum.
North East comedian Seymour Mace became the UK’s first comedian in residence and took on the job of helping the community share their memories and turn the coal and mining history of the area into educational stories full of humour to help bring local people together.
The resulting work highlighted the connections between heritage and humour as a way of strengthening community links.
While residing at the Woodhorn museum, Seymour also mentored fellow comics John Whale and Andy Fury. Collectively the group visited a wide range of community groups to collect stories and share stand up skills.
Behind the scenes Seymour conducted comedy workshops with museum staff, which proved to be a great way to explore new
skills, develop confidence and interpersonal skills and also to break down barriers.
The innovative Stand Up for Woodhorn has already been crowned the winner of Project on a Small Budget award at the prestigious Museum and Heritage for Excellence 2015 ceremony, for the wave of new audiences attracted to the museum.
Keith Merrin, director of museums and archives Northumberland, says: “We are really excited to be nominated for a Journal Culture Award for what we think is the first Museum Comedian in Residence anywhere in the World right here in the North East.
“It is a great boost to our team of dedicated staff who really threw themselves in to the idea of working with a comedian as well as our brilliant visitors and community members who shared their own funny stories with our comedian.
“It is also brilliant news for the funders of the project, The Happy Museum Project, who were willing to back our belief that comedy can play a really valuable role in facilitating meaningful connections between people and their heritage, art and environment.”
Arts Council Award: AV Festival
Throughout March 2014, AV Festival brought a celebration of art, music and film to the North East. Focusing on the theme of Extraction, it presented 11 exhibitions, 36 film screenings, 10 concerts and 11 new commissions which collectively drew more than 80,000 visitors to the region.
Artists such as Richard Skelton and the Elysian Quartet, Wang Bing and Chris Watson were among those responding to the natural landscape of the North East and beyond.
One stand out event was the world premiere of DS30. Commissioned to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miners strike, the large-scale outdoor event took place at the dramatic Dunston Staithes, built on the River Tyne in 1893 to ship coal from the local Durham coalfields to the world.
DS30 saw industrial music group Test Dept reform for the first time since 1997 bringing the drama and noise of the site back to life in a sonic, cinematic and lighting intervention, which included a 25-minute film including film archive material from the region.
Festival director, Rebecca Shatwell, says: "AV Festival is proud to be nominated in the category of Arts Council Award, in recognition of the artistic excellence and audience reach of our work. The Festival makes a significant contribution to both the economic and cultural life of the region and works in partnership with many amazing arts and heritage organisations.
"This nomination is testimony to the immense hard work and commitment of all the artists, venues, staff and volunteers we work with to make such an imaginative, challenging and popular large-scale biennial Festival happen in the region. AV Festival is now the longest running contemporary art Festival in the region, and long may it last!"
Best Event Northumberland, supported by Northumbria University: 150th Northumberland Miners’ Picnic at Woodhorn
One of the oldest festivals in the North East hit a landmark 150th year at Woodhorn Museum with an amazing day of music, arts, comedy, heritage and celebration enjoyed by over 4,000 people.
The day balanced the traditional and the contemporary, shifting from a show of community solidarity complete with mining banners and brass bands through to a programme of local and national artists including The Unthanks, Glen Tilbrook, Seymour Mace, Chris Connel and The November Club.
The Pit Yard marquee saw performances from Ashington Male Voice Choir, WERCAS Folk and legendary folk musician Johnny Handle alongside a performance of excerpts from Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters performed by original cast members Chris Connel - who will be presenting The Journal Culture Awards 2014 - and Philippa Wilson.
Keith Merrin, director of Museums and Archives Northumberland, says: “The 150th anniversary of one of the best-loved events in the North East calendar was always going to put a lot of pressure on the Woodhorn team to come up with an amazing programme.
“We had to do justice to the memory of the coal-mining communities of the region and the many thousands of picnic-goers throughout the history of the event.
“We believed that we had done just that so it was brilliant to hear that the Journal Culture Awards judges agreed! The event was more than just a programme of entertainment but a celebration of the very essence of the communities of Northumberland and featured many local people alongside major international performers.”
Best Event Tyneside, supported by Newcastle University: Great North Passion
The Great North Passion was a landmark arts and cultural event which shone a light on the talent and spirit of the North East, and created a national platform for its communities to tell their stories.
It took place in Bents Park, on the seafront in South Shields over the Easter weekend of 2014. The event was a major collaboration between a wide range of North East cultural organisations and the BBC. It told the Easter Passion story through a unique combination of live performance, music, poetry, visual arts and dance in a spectacular pop-up ‘cathedral’ made of shipping containers.
The live event attracted an audience of 3,500 people and it was broadcast live on BBC1 to an audience of 1.3 million people
nationally in one of the BBC’s largest outdoor broadcasts of 2014.
Over the weekend a further 3,000 people visited The Great North Passion exhibition at Bents Park, which featured the work of 12 world-class artists who had worked with communities across the North East to tell their stories.
The entire family could find something to inspire them and represent the way they understand the Easter story, though a combination of dance, visual arts, poetry, live performance and music, courtesy of the 500 performers that took part.
The event offered a national platform for the North East’s arts and cultural talent, its heritage, its stories and its wonderful landscapes.
Rebecca Ball, project director, The Cultural Spring, says: “The Great North Passion was created by so many people across the North East working together and that makes the nomination particularly special.
“It was a really exciting partnership with the BBC, massively ambitious and unlike anything any of the team had done before – so we are absolutely thrilled (to be nominated).
“Great North Passion was a community arts project, a live concert and a TV programme all in one. It brought together hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds across the North East to tell their version of the Easter Passion Story. Dozens of artists and arts organisation were involved working right across the region from Teesside to Northumberland.
“It was an epic undertaking and it was broadcast to an audience of over one million people on a beautifully sunny Easter Sunday from Bents Park in South Shields in one of the BBC’s largest live broadcasts of 2014.”
Best Event Sunderland, supported by University of Sunderland: Summer Streets
Summer Streets was a new community music festival developed for Thompson Park in Southwick, Sunderland. It was led by artistic director Ross Millard on behalf of the Cultural Spring, and took place on July 18, 2014.
The event was designed to showcase musical talent from Sunderland and South Tyneside across a wide range of genres from rock, folk, opera, barbershop and big bands. The programme featured 27 acts, from up and coming local talent such as The Lake Poets and Lilliput through to long standing community barbershop choir The Harton Harmonisers.
There were also musical workshops for both children and adults and a parade led by the a Samba band formed part of one of the festival’s participatory projects SAMBA magic. Summer Streets was a great opportunity to showcase the multitude of musical talent that exists within Sunderland and South Tyneside.
Rebecca Ball, project director, The Cultural Spring, says: “2014 was our first Summer Streets so being nominated for a Culture Award means a huge amount. We’ve been really thrilled by the response to the festival. People really liked seeing Thompson Park being used for this sort of big event – so much so we are planning to do it all again on the July 18 and 19, 2015.”
Best Event Durham, supported by Durham University: Mallard 75
Mallard 75 – The Great Goodbye at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, County Durham, was the finale to a series of UK events as part of the NRM’s Mallard 75 project. The event - held from February 15-23, 2014 - marked three quarters of a century since the iconic locomotive Mallard broke the steam speed record on July 3, 1938.
The Great Goodbye saw the Class A4 4468 reunited with her five surviving sister locomotives, brought to Railway Museum from around the world.
The nine-day event, which attracted almost 120,000 to the museum, also featured curator talks, cab access, steam rides an art exhibition by local artist John Wigston and another major reunion as 30 former rail drivers and firemen - aged from 60s to 80s - travelled from all over the country to enjoy the event.
It would be the last time these six machines were together, and as such, photo opportunities for the general public as well as early morning and late night ticketed sessions for dedicated rail fans were made available.
Best Event Teesside, supported by Teesside University: Jabberwocky Market
Since its launch in October 2013, Jabberwocky Market has captivated visitors with its unique offerings.
A unique festival, created especially for the people of Darlington, Jabberwocky is designed and run by theatre producers from the town, in partnership with internationally acclaimed partners and performances. It’s a market– but not as you know it.
Using small scale venues, including Voodoo Cafe, the Cattle Market and Crown Street Library as stages for top quality theatre, the festival featured events for people of all ages as well as professional workshops.
Taking place over two Jabberwocky Markets in May and again in October, Darlington once again welcomed the team from Battersea Arts Centre.
David Jubb, artistic director at Battersea Arts Centre, said: “We are proud to tour such exciting productions and strengthen the partnership between London and these regional partners, playing a part in their visionary initiatives and building on our mission to invent the future of theatre.”
Producer Caroline Pearce of Darlington’s Luxi theatre company says: “We are thrilled to be shortlisted for the award, which feels like a recognition of the hard work of a community of people across a number of years that culminates in an event that celebrates the very best contemporary story telling, in places that are accessible and that we love.
“The volunteers, audiences and team that have been part of our highs and lows for four successful festivals so far are the who, how and why we do it. Darlington is a great place to grow up and to grow old and we love to be able to bring amazing theatre and a fun atmosphere into town.”
Best Overall Event: Great North Passion
Special Contribution: Great North Run Culture
Since The Journal Culture Awards 2008, an award has been given out to an individual, group, organisation or project which has made a Special Contribution to North East Arts and Culture.
Previous winners have been Jon Bewley, Kathryn Tickell, The People’s Theatre, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Max Roberts and our very own Culture editor, David Whetstone.
At On Tuesday night in Sunderland another name was added to that very esteemed list.
Great North Run Culture has been a much-valued companion to the Bupa Great North Run since it was introduced as part of the event’s 25th anniversary in 2005.
In the decade which has past since, GNR Culture has worked with some of the leading figures from the cultural world, including those based in the North East.
New work has been commissioned from Mark Wallinger, Douglas Gordon, Fiona Banner, Michael Nyman, Jane and Louise Wilson, David Almond, Bill Bryson, Julian Germain, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Kate Fox, Beat Streuli, Graham Dolphin, Neville Campbell, KMA, Sir Peter Blake and Vicki Bennett, among many others.
The GNR Culture team work in partnership with venues and other arts organisations to present and commission work which encompasses film, photography, dance, drama, new writing, education and participation projects.
Key partners have included Baltic, New Writing North, The Sage Gateshead, Film and Video Umbrella, Seven Stories Centre for Children’s Books, Locus+, Live Theatre, Tyneside Cinema,Tyne and Wear Museums, the London 2012 Festival, ARC Stockton and the Cultural Olympiad.
Last year, they were responsible for putting the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides spectacularly on the world stage, thanks to the dramatic GNR Million Opening Ceremony, which was hosted by Ant and Dec and which featured performances from Mark Knopfler, Sting, Jimmy Nail, The Unthanks, Tim Healy, Jill Halfpenny and Chase and Status.