Artists Books Course at Creative Cohesion Sunderland With Theresa Easton, Week Two

I could go on about what my intentions are and show you my preliminary compositions but instead thought I’d talk about the ear wigged information I absorbed on Wednesday.

As I said in my previous post the topic or theme we must base our artist books on is ‘Sunderland’. At the moment most people are quite fluid about their intentions with a couple of exceptions. Here’s a brief outline of the ones I managed to catch…

Southwick Lantern Festival: An artist working with the school staff, children and families to facilitate the festival is thinking about creating a book with some of the images generated by the festival (which coincidently has been running since 2003). Alyson Stoker has a huge collection of documentary photographic evidence of the building of the wicker and tissue paper sculptures, the paper cuts and other planning artworks made by the children and their guardians. Not to mention hand drawn maps and images from the parade itself.

I am hugely impressed by the project and am sure that if Alyson does decide to explore the images she will come up with a fabulous book that is a testament to wonderful collaborative working practice between an artist, school, its pupils, parents and the wider community in Southwick. To find out more about the Southwick Lantern Festival project click here for a write-up in a local newspaper.

Washington New Town will be the focus of photographer Nicola Maxwells artists book. Nicola is looking at the islands of nature that break up Washington’s villages. Wikipedia explains,

The new town is divided into small self-sufficient “villages”. It was originally also divided into the 15 original numbered districts.

I am particularly excited about the project simply because I was one of those people who always felt a bit lost in Washington when the districts were numbers… and also because I think the New Town movement was born out of something aspirational and optimistic. It was about trying to build a better future for people and whilst some New Towns have had problems historically (experimenting with socio-economics and new materials mixed with some rapid change didn’t always make for an ideal solution) and some have real problems now (being built as a place to disperse populations and create new industry s that perhaps are no longer economically viable) we could do with some more of that b-i-g thinking. Plus I must admit I like the design aesthetic of the period… Some great info here on New Towns.

I also really love this map by architectural firm “A Small Studio”


So where are these New Towns?
So where are these New Towns? image available at


Josie Taggart, a sculptor who is also a graduate of The University of Sunderland is planning to create her own illustrations to an old sea shanty sung in the east end of Sunderland that has mysterious origins. It tells the tale of various sea creatures, I can’t wait to hear it.

BBC video on sea shanties recorded by an American at the Sunderland Home for Retired Mariners in the 1920s. If you’re a teacher you might find this handy… Heritage Open Days Resource pack A Song for Every Place

One third year student at Sunderland University is choosing to focus on The National Glass Centre. It’s easy to overlook the obvious (maybe it isn’t obvious but it seems obvious when you are attending a workshop at Creative Cohesion a studio and gallery of glass and ceramic artists many with strong ties to the courses at The Glass Centre) but actually I think it’s a superb topic for a book about Sunderland. It reflects some of the current creative practice happening in Sunderland and is also architecturally very interesting. Its also a real asset to the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at the¬†University of Sunderland.University and is internationally recognised as a centre for excellence.


Gollifer Associates Architectural Model of the National Glass Centre


To see more images of The National Glass Centre visit their Flickr group.

Other final year undergraduates are going to record their experience of Transportation in around and to Sunderland; research the story of “The Lambton Worm”; Investigate Penshaw Monument: observe and record the changing architectural details in Sunderland. Wow!

Theresa Easton is going to base her book on images of ships from Sunderland and ship makers Curves. The BBC Nation on Film archive has a really interesting succinct article on shipbuilding in the North East and Sunderland here

Sunderland was once dubbed ‘the largest shipbuilding town in the world’, and employed a wide variety of shipyard workers – bumpers up, holders down, rivet catchers, welders, foremen, ship fitters, tuners and boiler makers to name a few.

There’s a great article about how the Ship Draughtsman role changed in Sunderland over time here.


Copenhagen Ship Curves
Copenhagen Ship Curves perhaps similar to ones used in Sunderland


I can see how the book will have very strong links to the heritage of Sunderland and to Theresa’s other artist’s books that seem to focus on science and technology ranging from selective breeding in agriculture to Copernicuses observations.

Really need to get some of my own drawings onto accetate for next week going to try and combine a lino cut with a silkscreen and monoprinting- yes I want my head to explode!


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