A major new Festival of Illustration is destined to be a major attraction in Hartlepool this summer, bringing world-renowned illustrators, cartoonists and comic artists to the town.
Leading the event is Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) whose former students include the film director Sir Ridley Scott and the artist Mackenzie Thorpe.
The free month-long event is expected to attract thousands of people from across the North East and the UK.
The festival, starting on June 4, is a collaboration between the college, Hartlepool Borough Council and Seven Stories, the centre for children’s books.
It is also being supported by major publishers and illustrators.
Month-long exhibitions will be mounted at the Hartlepool Art Gallery and Central Library.
Among those represented in a major exhibition of international illustrators’ work will be Ralph Steadman (famous for political caricatures), John McCrea (Marvel), Will Simpson (Game of Thrones), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Drew Millward and Chris Mould.
Some of the exhibitors will be taking part in a series of events on June 5, when there is to be a symposium, and on June 6, when they will host masterclasses for young and aspiring artists.
Throughout the month there will be storytelling events in schools and libraries.
During the festival there will be an illustrators’ market in Church Square when visitors will be able to buy work directly from artists from around the country.
Funding for the festival has come from Arts Council England and the Sir James Knott Trust. It is supported by a host of other organisations including the Cartoon Museum.
Pat Chapman, the college’s head of employability and enterprise, said: “This is an incredibly exciting event for CCAD and Hartlepool.
“It will give people, especially young people, the chance to experience the original artwork behind familiar images in books and comics and take part in drawing workshops where they will take home their own art.
“This festival is part of our commitment to the development of Hartlepool, and Church Street in particular, as a cultural and creative centre and visitor attraction – good for people and good for business and employment.”
Hartlepool has recently been celebrating the announcement of £5.4m in Government funding to support the regeneration of Church Street as a cultural quarter.
Ben Clowes, who leads an illustration degree course at the college, said: “The response from leading illustrators, publishers and agents to this festival and to our course has been incredible.
“It gives Hartlepool the amazing opportunity to show the country what a creative area we live in and how we at CCAD are contributing to the region’s creative industries.”
Coun Robbie Payne, who chairs the local authority’s regeneration services committee, hailed a “fantastic event”.
He said: “Church Street is one of the areas highlighted in the Hartlepool Vision for rejuvenation and hosting an event like this will help substantially in the ongoing work to create an innovation and skills quarter which will help to retain students in our town, create jobs and boost the local economy.”