Animating Hexham: inspirational animations and conversations about Hexham’s heritage

Exciting plans to animate the historic town centre through a series of projections created by artists and local families has been announced by Hexham Culture Network.

Inspired by Hexham’s heritage and funded by Historic England, Animating Hexham aims to discover stories and evoke memories of the town’s high streets and buildings, using these to inspire animations and conversations about Hexham’s heritage. Animations will be projected across the main shopping streets depicting why Hexham’s heritage is important to the community and what value the town centre will have in the future. This preliminary stage of the project will be in the Autumn.

Katy Taylor, Artistic Director/Chief Executive of Queen’s Hall Arts and Chair of the Hexham Culture Network said, “We hope that Animating Hexham will inspire people to share their memories, get creative and feel a sense of ownership of Hexham’s rich heritage, as well as thinking about the future of our historic town. By working in partnership to deliver an innovative and accessible programme we hope to connect people of all ages through animation and storytelling to create a lasting legacy for our community.”

Cllr Cath Homer, county councillor for Hexham East said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to promote the rich history and heritage of our town and to capture the memories and stories we often hear shared. I’d encourage everyone to get involved whether they just want to enjoy the installation or have a story of their own to contribute.”

Animator and filmmaker Sheryl Jenkins will work with families to create a series of animations to be showcased online and projected in Hexham town centre. From 19April budding animators of all ages can sign up for a series of free online workshops with Sheryl to develop their animation skills, and there will also be sessions with a sound artist and a writer to learn about adapting stories, storyboarding and using sound. Sheryl said, “Animating Hexham is a great opportunity for family groups. The project will take place online, so participants will have the space to develop ideas in their own time. I’ll be sharing animation techniques and guiding participants through the filmmaking process. It’s going to be exciting to see the finished films.”

Sheryl Jenkins

Cllr Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for business and tourism at Northumberland County Council said: “It is great to see the first project in the Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) cultural programme getting underway. This will be a fantastic way of enabling people to get involved in celebrating their town.”

Six professional artists will be commissioned through an open call to create animations based on stories and memories about the High Street collected by Northumberland Archives and Hexham Libraries. The panel will be led by Queen’s Hall Arts who have extensive experience of commissioning artists, and it will be the first time that the Hexham Culture Network has collaborated on a joint project. By working in partnership, the network will share and develop skills and build confidence for future commissions. The deadline to apply is 15 March, and animations will be projected onto shopfronts and landmarks in Hexham town centre from September 2021.

Jules Brown from Historic England said, “It’s wonderful that we’re able to fund such a worthwhile family-focussed project through the HSHAZ. I hope these projections will bring a bit of life and colour to the town centre as the evenings get darker in the autumn.

Cllr Trevor Cessford, county councillor for Hexham Central with Acomb, added, “It is very exciting to see these diverse ideas helping to promote Hexham as a cultural and tourism destination. The HSHAZ will play a key part in bringing some of these elements together, with Katy Taylor being an integral link in it all.”

Animating Hexham is being developed and managed by Hexham Culture Network on behalf of Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) and led by Queen’s Hall Arts. HSHAZ is an ambitious scheme seeking to deliver major improvements to boost the town centre and enhance the Conservation Area. It aims to revitalise Hexham’s historic town centre making it a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work, invest in and visit. It is a partnership between Historic England, Northumberland County Council, Hexham Town Council and the Hexham Community Partnership, working with the local community.

For more information or to sign up for the free online animation workshops with Sheryl Jenkins visit Animating Hexham.

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