A group of artistic adults have been working with a film producer on a project celebrating famous South Tynesiders.
Ocean Arts, which is for adults with learning disabilities, have been learning about successful people who hail from South Shields, such as Monty Python star Eric Idle, film director Sir Ridley Scott, and performer and choreographer Lindsay Kemp, who taught David Bowie and Kate Bush how to dance.
The group, which is based at The CustomSpace in The Captain’s Row, were led through the project by South Shields-born creative producer Garry Hunter, from London-based film production company Fitzrovia Noir.
Garry, from Biddick Hall, has done a lot of work in the town recently having been involved in arts project The Cultural Spring.
He said: “This project, Devise Dance Document, came about thanks to a grant from Awards For All, from the Big Lottery Fund, and it was all about looking at people from South Shields who have been successful in creative industries, like Eric Idle, Ridley Scott and Lindsey Kemp, who we’re actually hoping to bring to the town when he comes to London later this year.
“When I was growing up in South Shields, it was Cookson Country and was all about Catherine Cookson, but there were all these other brilliant people who came from our town and weren’t celebrated, and they’re all still around today.
“Devise looks at the work of Eric Idle, who was born in Harton. We made ‘cut up’ text scripts with poet and performer Dr Mark Greenwood, who grew up in Hebburn.
“Dance looks at the work of Lindsay Kemp. We made self-portraits based on the look of David Bowie, looking at how Lindsay directed the Ziggy Stardust stage show and performed with Bowie on stage many times.
“We arranged, rehearsed and recorded a version of Jean Genie, which references Lindsay introducing David Bowie to the work of French playwright Jean Genet, working with Jarrow-born musician and historian Ged Lynn.
“Lindsay grew up in Talbot Road but he has lived in Italy for 30 years, and it is about time he is properly recognised in his home town, for his huge influences across the arts.
“Document looks at the work of film director and producer Ridley Scott. Film editor Gareth Evans, who grew up in Darlington has put together a film of all of these activities, featuring 70 participants, volunteers, visiting artists and staff at Ocean Arts, with assistance from Kevin Flett.
“It was great fun working with Ocean Arts and it was all about inspiring them to realise they can do whatever they want to do.”
Martin Wray, director of Ocean Arts, said: “We have jointly been able to create an experience for a number of people for whom such opportunities previously have never come their way.
“Garry’s care, enthusiasm and vision has enabled everyone at Ocean Arts to take part in a very unique experience which, unquestionably, has enriched the lives of those involved.”