One of the biggest North East festivals is back with a programme which invites us to consider the ground beneath our feet.
Extraction is the theme of the sixth AV Festival and it’s highly appropriate since the region would not be the way it is today if it hadn’t been for coal or – if you live in the north Pennines – lead.
The extraction of these materials over centuries helped to shape our landscape and, to some degree, our attitudes.
Artists from around the world were invited to respond to the theme and, via a clutch of new commissions, demonstrate new ways of seeing, thinking and hearing.
This international festival of art, music and film – now on the radar around the world – takes in venues across the region, large and small.
Inside Culture this month you will meet one of the artists who created new work for the festival. The American Susan Stenger, who first came to the region in a rock band back in the 1980s, has steeped herself in the folk music of the North East.
She told us where she found the inspiration for her new sound-based installation at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery.
The AV Festival ends with a major event at Dunstan Staiths, the structure built on the Tyne in 1893 to enable coal to be shipped from County Durham to the world. Featuring archive footage and music from 1980s band Test Department, the spectacle – to be viewed from boats – will mark the 30th anniversary of the year-long miners’ strike. Now that’s what we call ambitious!
In this month’s magazine we also have Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos talking about his links with the North East and Paul Smith, of Maxïmo Park fame, sharing his diary jottings as the band tours to promote its new album, Too Much Information.
It was to Paris that Culture writer Barbara Hodgson ventured to investigate a dance show called Boxe Boxe, coming to the Theatre Royal for one night only. It’s the work of Companie Kafig and you will find out more about them and their boxing-inspired dance work inside.
Mima, the Middlesbrough art gallery, invites us to consider a decade which can get overlooked in its exhibition Art and Optimism in 1950s Britain.
Happy viewing – and listening!
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