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Community art project boosts the vibrancy of Stanley’s high street

The artwork of Stanley school pupils is hanging proud over the windows and doors of the Stanley Board School.
Karbon Homes artwork

The exhibition, delivered by County Durham based participatory arts organisation The Forge and funded by local housing association Karbon Homes, is named ‘a child’s eye view of home’ and consists of photography from pupils at both Annfield Plain Junior School and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. The art exhibition designed to help bring vibrancy to the disused building and boost community pride in the town’s high street.

The showcase is part of the wider project to help boost the local economy by regenerating the high street, through which Karbon Homes purchased the dilapidated board school and launched a community consultation to help shape the future plans for the site.

Victoria Keen, Place Partnership Strategic Lead, said: “It’s fantastic to see this project completed and the artwork up on the front of the Board School. It’s transformed the exterior of the building and brought some vibrancy to the high street, and it’s lovely to see the depictions of what home means to the youngest in our community.

“The Board School site is prominent on the high street and it’s time for a change. The installation of the exhibition is the beginning of making change for the better in the town, and we hope our longer-term plans for the redevelopment of the building will be the start of a revival of Front Street.”

Using the theme of home, which echoes Karbon’s mission to provide good quality homes that help their residents build strong foundations for life, the children worked with acclaimed photographer Madeleine Waller to document the things that make their house a home.

They also further explored the theme through a series of writing workshops with Dr Bob Beagrie, professional poet and creative writing tutor.

The final exhibition was officially unveiled at an event last week, where pupils and teachers involved in the project, along with colleagues from Karbon Homes, The Forge and representatives from a number of local community organisation, came together to celebrate its completion.

Tony Harrington, Executive Director of The Forge, was impressed by the children’s creative responses: “By capturing these quiet, everyday moments – spent with hobbies, toys and teddies, or with families, siblings and pets – the children help us to understand what makes a home a home.”

“Everyone involved in the project has remarked on the quality of the children’s work and the power of their writing and still images.  It’s great to know that we are nurturing so many talented young poets and photographers in our Stanley schools.”

Through its community consultation, Karbon is calling on local residents and the town’s key stakeholders, organisations and businesses to help it shape its plans for the Board School site.

Some of the potential options include community/enterprise spaces, a youth hub, a community café and affordable housing.


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