A HISTORIC church is being transformed into a temporary art gallery to showcase the creative talents of North East students and promote its use as a community venue.
The exhibition is a collaborative project between Sunderland College art, photography and performing art students at the Holy Trinity Church, a Grade-I listed building in the east end of the city.
Students have taken inspiration from the rich historical background from the area and the church for their exhibition called Accord, which will be unveiled next week. Ranging from sculpture and video installations to paintings, the exhibition also includes pieces inspired by the lives of historical figures who contributed to Sunderland’s social and economic life.
Built in 1718, Holy Trinity was once at the heart of a busy port, but was vested into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust in 1988 after a dwindling congregation and mounting repair bills hit it hard.
The Trust is now working in partnership with Living History North East (LHNE), The Affective Interaction Research Group at Sunderland University, Hendon Young People’s Project, and the Bunker, to turn the church into a new heritage centre called The Canny Space.
Janette Hilton, director of LHNE, said: “Giving students the opportunity to access and work in this special heritage context has really brought out the best of their artistic talents and clearly demonstrates the potential of The Canny Space to contribute to the cultural life of the city.”
Dr Susan Jones is a university senior lecturer in computing and a researcher who has been collaborating with LHNE and The Canny Space partners in the broader context of The Sunderland Heritage Quarter.
She said: “The heritage developments ongoing in the East End of Sunderland are providing students across the city with a range of opportunities to realise their talents.
“In parallel to the exhibition for arts students, for example, we also have five undergraduate computing project students currently developing iPad learning applications for primary school children based upon East End heritage.”
Dr Lynne Hall, university reader in computing, said: “For this exhibition, each of the artists’ responses to Holy Trinity Church, whatever the medium, contributes to a unique co-operative alliance or Accord, coming together to create this harmonious body of artistic work.
“The partnerships that have enabled this exhibition to happen reflect broader developments across the older parts of the city to rekindle its unique heritage, stimulating research and engagement with a key goal to create new opportunities for the young people of Sunderland.”
The exhibition opens to the public on January 17 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.