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Glassmaking workshops shine light on dale's industrial past

Published January 16, 2019 10.57am

A replica lead mining tub featuring handmade glass panels will be the centrepiece of a community arts project celebrating a dale's industrial heritage.

Weardale tub 1

Artists Robyn Townsend and Jayne Johnson measure the tub frame ahead of the workshops

The Weardale Tub project aims to engage people of all ages in the area's rich history and highlight how industry has shaped the landscape and communities they live in today.

As part of the project, led by the council and MBC Arts Wellbeing CIC, a full-size, replica lead tub will be created and installed at Killhope Lead Mining Museum in Upper Weardale.

Artists from MBC Arts and Wellbeing CIC have already completed the steel frame and over the next few months, they will lead a series of free glassmaking workshops across Weardale. Individuals, community groups and schools are invited to attend the sessions, where they will seek inspiration from the area's heritage to create 500 glass images to display in the frame.

For more information or to book a place on one of the workshops, contact or call 03000 262679.

Experienced glasswork tutors will guide participants to produce their own panel, using materials that reflect industrial activity of the past, alongside frits, tacks, stingers and other materials. Once fused, the glass panels will be fired into larger panels that will form the sides of the lead tub, which will be unveiled at Killhope in July.

Those who take part will also have the opportunity to be part of a documentary, which MBC Arts Wellbeing has commissioned to chart the project.

Houghton Tub

The Houghton Tub, commissioned by Sunderland City Council, is part of the inspiration behind the project

Arts Council England, Weardale Area Action Partnership (AAP), Northern Heartlands and the council are funding the venture, which follows on from the successful We are Weardale project.

Funded by Weardale AAP, the year-long creative literacy project saw primary school children and local people produce a compilation of stories about life in the dale.

Debbie Connell, our community culture development officer , said: "Often, when we talk about heritage, we think of the past and the lives and accomplishments of those who came before us.

 "However, heritage is about more than that; it is a celebration of how previous generations shaped the communities and landscapes that exist today.

"In Weardale, evidence of the area's industrial past is all around us and what better way to acknowledge that than by creating an art installation that links people to their past in such a visual way.

"I would urge people of all ages to sign up for our free workshops and make their mark on the Weardale Tub."

The free workshops will take place at:

  • Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton-le- Wear - Tuesday, 22 January, 9.30am to 12.00pm or 12.30pm to 3.00pm
  • Wolsingham Town Hall - Tuesday, 29 January, 6.00pm to 8.30pm
  • Frosterley Village Hall - Thursday, 28 February, 6.00pm to 8.30pm
  • Stanhope Community Centre - Wednesday, 6 March, 9.30am to 12.00pm or 1.00pm to 3.15pm
  • Chatterbox CafĂ©, St John's Chapel - Thursday, 14 March, 6.00pm to 8.30pm
  • Cowshill Village Hall - Monday, 18 March, 1.00pm to 3.30pm
  • Killhope Lead Mining Museum - various dates during the Easter holidays to be confirmed.

Booking is essential, as places are limited. 

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