Art project spreads a little happiness

HAPPY DAYS ... Ben Easton and Victoria Pratt, from Invisible Flock, Rebecca Ball, from the Cultural Spring, and Rich Warburton, from Invisible Flock
HAPPY DAYS ... Ben Easton and Victoria Pratt, from Invisible Flock, Rebecca Ball, from the Cultural Spring, and Rich Warburton, from Invisible Flock

ARTS leaders are hoping to lift “doom and gloom” and create a map of happiness in South Tyneside.

The initiative, called Bring the Happy, is asking people to pinpoint geographic locations they associate with a happy memory.

Lucy-Anne Mackie, from Whitburn, with Victoria Pratt

Lucy-Anne Mackie, from Whitburn, with Victoria Pratt

Each memory is then recorded on a “happiness map” and is helping to create a digital archive of happiness from around the world.

Memories already donated include one from a pensioner recalling her delight at VE Day, marriage proposals and the births of children.

The project will culminate in three live music shows, being held at North Shore at the University of Sunderland’s St Peter’s campus, in late February.

Memories are being donated over a five-week period at installations in South Tyneside.

In South Shields, the old Riddicks shoe shop in Fowler Street is being used.

A pod is also being opened in Cleadon, East Boldon, and Boldon Colliery to allow people to pass on their ideas.

The National Glass Centre, in Sunderland, is also being used as a weekend installation.

The project is the fourth major commission from The Cultural Spring, a three-year Arts Council-funded project working to increase engagement in the arts in 10 wards in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Artist Victoria Pratt, from Invisible Flock, the company delivering the project, said: “We’ve been delivering Bring the Happy in towns and cities across the UK and abroad since 2010.

“The idea came out of the recession really, when so many empty shops started appearing on our high streets and there was a lot of doom and gloom around.

“The project is all about happiness and we usually create installations in empty shops where people come and tell us about their happy memories.”

People attending the installations get a glass marker to place on a map to correspond with their memory and the happier the memory, the higher the marker.

The ten Cultural Spring wards are Biddick Hall and All Saints, Boldon, Cleadon, Whitburn/Marsden and Whiteleas in South Tyneside and Castletown, Red House, Southwick, Fulwell and Roker/St Peter’s wards in Sunderland.

For more about the Cultural Spring project or to buy tickets for live shows, go to www.theculturalspring.org.uk.

@davidallison88