Bringing ambitions to life through art

Bradley Coulson, Innovator in Residence at Northumbria University, working with families in Ashington on the Town of Colour project.
Bradley Coulson, Innovator in Residence at Northumbria University, working with families in Ashington on the Town of Colour project.

A new piece of public art bringing a town’s ambitions to life is to be unveiled.

An educational arts project focusing on a ‘Town of Colour’ aims to present a vision of Ashington through art, photography and social media.

It is the culmination of a programme of partnership workshops and activities organised by Northumbria University to harness community aspirations in Ashington involving hundreds of young people and their families.

And the artwork, along with an accompanying exhibition, will be revealed to the public today (Thursday), coinciding with Ashington’s annual Christmas lights event.

The artwork is a culmination of a competition involving local schools, college and children’s centre and the winners will receive a Changing Rooms style makeover courtesy of Dulux, a leading brand of AkzoNobel, which is building one of the world’s most advanced and sustainable manufacturing plants in Ashington.

Town of Colour is a new partnership initiative aiming to raise aspirations and helping to develop Ashington in the future.

The project originated from a joint desire amongst partners to improve and develop Ashington through activities led by residents and particularly young people.

Dr Nicholas Spencer, programme leader for MDI at Northumbria said: “This project is one of several that have been developed by MDI students and graduates at the Northern Design Centre in Gateshead.

“MDI graduates James Shutt and Bradley Coulson challenged children, young people and families to consider their vision for Ashington in 2020 using a range of techniques including art, photography and social media.”

A dedicated family fun day was also delivered at the Surestart Centre, which attracted 150 participants.

Ben Nightingale, an artist and MDI student at Northumbria, was commissioned to work with the children who attended to create sketches of themselves in their dream roles.

The project culminated in a competition from which 12 winners were selected, four from each of the participating schools including Ashington High School, Northumberland College, Church of England Academy and the town’s Surestart Centre.

It is these winners who will see their work on display as part of the public art and exhibition.

Partners to the project include Northumbria University, AkzoNobel, Northumberland College, Woodhorn Museum, ARCH, The Northumberland Church of England Academy, Ashington Town Council, Ashington Learning Partnership, Ashington Children’s Centre and Northumberland County Council.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s great to see the end result of all the hard work that young people and their families have put in from across the town.

“Representatives from both school partnerships, the college and the children’s centre have combined with the expertise of the University to develop new ideas for the future.

“This demonstrates the considerable skills that local people have to offer and with the public display there’s now an opportunity to continue a discussion with the wider community about the future of the town.”

Dionne Clark, learning and community development manager at AkzoNobel, said: “AkzoNobel is committed to working in partnership with its local communities on initiatives that will transform the environment and inspire people to achieve great things.

“All evidence points to the fact that using colour in an imaginative way can play a key role in achieving these goals. It is for these reasons that AkzoNobel is totally committed to the Town of Colour.”