Bringing to life Great North Passion

JESUS STORY ... one of the Great North passion shipping containers at Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn, with co-ordinators and artists. Below, breakdance group Bad Taste Cru.
JESUS STORY ... one of the Great North passion shipping containers at Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn, with co-ordinators and artists. Below, breakdance group Bad Taste Cru.

POETRY, dance and art are coming to life as a massive community project is launched in South Tyneside.

Dozens of people are getting involved in the Great North Passion, a retelling of the final hours of Jesus Christ, in a major BBC One outside broadcast for Good Friday, at South Shields seafront.

Great North Passion event shipping container at Souter Lighthouse. 'Bad Taste Cru from left Conor O'Kane, Paul Martin and Eroy Chan

Great North Passion event shipping container at Souter Lighthouse. 'Bad Taste Cru from left Conor O'Kane, Paul Martin and Eroy Chan

Artists involved in the project gathered yesterday at Souter Lightouse, Whitburn, at the official launch of the event, which saw shipping containers lowered into place.

The containers will be used as showcases for community art projects, before forming a massive cross on the day of the broadcast, being presented as part of the massive Cultural Spring programme.

International artist Garry Hunter, originally from Biddick Hall, South Shields, is back on home turf for the project, working with residents at Chuter Ede Community Association, in Galsworthy Road, where he was a pupil in the 1970s, when it was a comprehensive.

Mr Hunter, 50, who has worked on art projects in more 60 countries, said: “Many of the streets in Biddick Hall are named after poets and critics, and I’m encouraging people to choose quotations from writers like Masefield, Ruskin and Hazlitt. These will be inscribed on wood and placed inside the container.

“I think of the project like some of the votive offerings inside churches in Latin America, and this gives it the religious or spiritual aspect.”

The container will be open at Chuter Ede CA until 5pm tomorrow, between 2pm and 6pm on Friday, from 10am until noon on Saturday and Monday, and between noon and 5pm on Tuesday.

At Boldon School, breakdance group Bad Taste Cru is working with 15 young people on a three-minute routine called The Burden.

Group leader Paul Martin said: “The piece is inspired by the weight of the cross on Jesus, and we are working with teenagers from Boldon School on the performance, which will then be staged inside a shipping container on Good Friday.”

At Souter Lighthouse, leading sculptor Joseph Hillier is working with volunteers on an art project for the Good Friday extravaganza.

He said: “I am taking the volunteers out to places like the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle and the Winter Gardens in Sunderland, where the idea is that they are inspired by individual exhibits and items in places of local interest, which then feeds into the Great North Passion.”

Members of rock band The Futureheads and other artists from across the North East attended the launch at Souter Lighthouse, which saw the first of several shipping containers arrive as part of the Great North Passion, which will be broadcast live from Bents Park at noon on Good Friday.

Twitter: @terrykelly16