Both the sun and cultural spotlight shone on the region’s artistic talent as the BBC broadcast its flagship Easter show from South Shields yesterday.
The Great North Passion hosted by Fern Britton brought 3,000 people and a host of celebrated artists and musicians together for a contemporary re-telling of Christ’s last moments.
The live BBC One broadcast at noon yesterday was the culmination of months of hard work for artists who had created 12 art installations inside shipping containers, which were then lifted into a dramatic crucifix formation at Bent’s Park.
X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke joined local band the Futureheads and community choirs for performances throughout the hour-long show and it finished with a rousing finale of the Jackie Wilson song (Your Love Lifts Me) Higher and Higher.
The Great North Passion is set to be the largest gathering of North East artists this year, and from the miners strikes, to a Sunderland mother’s loss of her child, to questions of truth and hope, those commissioned to create pieces used the North East and its people as their inspiration.
Presenter Fern Britton said the live broadcast had been a fantastic opportunity for South Tyneside to demonstrate its rich cultural offering on television.
She said: “It just goes to show how very under-estimated the talent in the North East is and it’s so diverse.
“I’ve been blown away by the people and landscape.”
The event also acted as the launch of the Arts Council’s £2m fund for The Cultural Spring, which has The Customs House in South Shields as one of its partners and aims to encourage people in South Tyneside to engage and participate in the arts.
Artist Patrick Murphy created one of the shipping container installations designed to represent the 12 stations of the cross with the help of ex-miners and people who use the Ashington Children’s Centre in Northumberland.
Clog dancers led by Annie Rigby from Unfolding Theatre beat out a rhythm on oil drums while sea coal and a bench embossed with messages and miner’s identity tags featured as the artwork.
Richard Broderick from Whitley Bay worked with hundreds of people in living near the Fish Quay in North Shields to create his installation on the theme ‘truth’ which was floated across the Tyne to the park.
The installation at Bent’s Park is now open to the public over the Easter weekend.