Animating Hexham: stories and memories

Sheryl Jenkins animation workshop

A series of animations by artists and local families will be projected onto shopfronts and landmarks in Hexham’s historic town centre this September. The event is Animating Hexham.

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 collected by Northumberland Archives and Hexham Libraries to inspire animations and conversations.

Six professional artists have been commissioned to create animations:

The artists

  • Ed Merlin Murray is an artist, illustrator, and animator based in Northumberland 
  • Comic artist Erin McGrath is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art who lives in Hexham 
  • Glasgow based Illustrator & animator Jason Kerley is obsessed with paper, pixels and colour
  • Petra Szemánis a moving image artist from Budapest, now based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who works with animation and game-like immersive installations
  • Ronan Devlin is a Belfast-born North East based artist whose work has been widely exhibited internationally
  • Rozi Fuller began her career as a freelance animator in Toronto and she has created animations for CBeebies, CITV, HBO, Nick jr, BBC and Channel 4, as well as short films and outdoor projections

Animator and filmmaker Sheryl Jenkins is also working with local families to create a series of animations to be showcased online and projected in Hexham town centre. 

Inspiration to share Hexham’s heritage

Katy Taylor, Artistic Director/Chief Executive of Queen’s Hall Arts and Chair of the Hexham Culture Network said:

“We were really impressed by the quality and range of artists who responded to the open call and we can’t wait to see their work projected onto our beautiful town centre, alongside animations by local families. 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.”

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.

Family focus

Jules Brown from Historic England said, “It’s wonderful that we’re able to fund such a worthwhile family-focussed project through the Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone. 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 Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for business and tourism at Northumberland County Council said: “It is great to see the first project in the HSHAZ cultural programme getting underway. This will be a fantastic way of enabling people to get involved in celebrating their town.”

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.”

Animating Hexham will take place from 9-12 September. Projection sites will be confirmed in August, and the free animation trail will start in the Market Place. For more information visit www.queenshall.co.uk/events/animating-hexham 

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