Community art work brightens up Metro in South Tyneside

Pupils with art work at Chichester Metro station
13 July 2022

Artwork celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Tyne and Wear Metro has gone on display at three South Tyneside stations.

The artwork was produced through a project delivered by The Cultural Spring, working with County Durham artist Laura Brenchley and a mix of local community groups. 

The project was a partnership with Metro’s operator, Nexus, and was funded by Arts Council England, as part of the Metro Community Takeover project marking the network’s 40th anniversary. 

The artwork is in the form of large collages made up of individual tiles created by members of the community groups, and can be seen in Hebburn, Chichester and Bede stations.

Groups and schools who took part in the project included Hospitality and Hope’s Wellbeing Hub, Hebburn Sea Cadets, Lord Blyton Primary School, Monkton Academy, groups from Bilton Hall Community Trust and NAAFI Break South Tyneside, an organisation run for veterans by veterans.

The Cultural Spring’s Project Director, Emma Horsman, said: “Our Metro 40 project was a lovely one to work on with local community groups, and I think the results will be enjoyed by Metro passengers for years to come.

“Artist Laura Brenchley asked people to think about what the Metro meant to them, and what memories they had of the system. The groups then produced tiles using cut-outs from old magazines and recycled materials – the tiles were then used to create large collages of memories.”

Laura added: “I’m really, really, happy with the end result and excited that something so great has been created using everyday materials. What has been particularly powerful about the project has been the stories behind so many of the tiles – and how proud everyone is of their own contributions and the final collages.”

Alison Collins, a teacher at Lord Blyton, led the school’s work on the project: “There were about 20 children from Years 5 and 6 involved in the project and they loved working on it – learning more about the area in which they live as well as learning new artistic techniques.

“They’ve loved seeing their work in the flesh too.”

Laura said she particularly enjoyed working with Hospitality and Hope: “Working with Wellbeing Manager Kerry Bell and the team there was great and we got some fantastic stories – there was one about a pit pony and another story about woman making an escape on the Metro.”

One of the Hospitality and Hope stories represented on a tile came from Adiatu Kamara,. She explained: “I came here from London and didn’t understand the way in which the ticketing system worked – I thought it was the same as London’s Oyster card and what I paid would get me to Newcastle.

“Obviously it didn’t and I was fined and that was reflected in my tile,” she added.

Joe Mills, Chair of NAAFI Break South Tyneside said about 28 veterans had taken part in three sessions with Laura: “I was astounded at the reaction to the project, and family and friends became involved and not just our veterans.”

Rebecca Ditchburn, Stakeholder Relations Office at Nexus, added: “We started working on the project with Laura and Emma at The Cultural Spring in 2020, looking to find a variety of groups to work with.

“It’s been great hearing all the stories and what the Metro has meant to so many people. The result is something special – artwork that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

The Metro Community Takeover saw new life brought to the system through dance, song, music and visual arts projects, involving major regional arts organisations including Sunderland Culture, Dance City and The Cultural Spring.


Community artwork in South Tyneside Metro stations

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