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Hard work and creativity of 200 children goes on display at special exhibition

Children and young people

Friday, 01 September 2023
Joseph Kemp and Joseph Deen (front) and artists Harriet Mee and Jake Loads at the exhibition at the Dorman Museum

Incredible artwork inspired by the hard work and creativity of more than 200 children is proudly on display in Middlesbrough.

Art influenced by our industrial heritage features in the ‘Rivers of Steel’ exhibition at the Dorman Museum until Saturday, after seven local artists worked with youngsters over the summer.

Sessions were led by freelance artists Harriet Mee and Jake Loades as part of Bring it on Boro, the new name for the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF), which offered a healthy meal and a host of fun activities throughout the summer holidays.

Initially aimed at children on free school meals, Middlesbrough Council found extra funding to offer activities, sports and experiences to any child in the town who wanted to take part.

Harriet said the art sessions were “enriching and gave many young people a completely new experience”.

“We wanted to inspire the children to use their imagination and have the space to explore their ideas through art,” said Harriet, who was a primary school teacher before becoming an artist.

“Those who took part absolutely loved the opportunity to do something a bit different as unfortunately, some children don’t have the chance to focus as much on art at school.

“Two things really stood out – firstly, just how curious the children were. We had so many questions about how they can become artists.

“And secondly, comments from other staff members involved in the programme who were blown away with the quality of work the children produced.”

Jake agreed: “I loved being able to give the children a chance to explore art in a way that I didn’t always have as a child.

“I think there were some young people who hadn’t really given art a try before, but absolutely loved being involved.”

A three-day exhibition started on Thursday in the Dorman’s education room and continues on Friday and Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

Some of the work produced includes an embroidered picture of the Transporter Bridge, including a collage of children’s drawings, and a large anchor adorned with the names of ships built on Teesside.

Children attending HAF sessions at Pennyman, Brambles and Captain Cook Primary Schools, the Manor Hub in Coulby Newham, Academy 17 in Ormesby and the Community Living Room in Hemlington contributed to the exhibition.

Two of the youngsters involved, friends Joseph Deen and Joseph Kemp, both aged eight, had a chance to see their work on display on Thursday.

Joseph Deen said: “I enjoyed it a million out of a million, it was loads of fun. I’m proud that people will be able to see my work.”

Joseph Kemp agreed: “I loved making a print of the Boro stadium. I had to use a roller and all sorts of other things.

“It was very good. I’m excited that it’s on display in the museum.”

Joseph Kemp and Joseph Deen, both aged 8, at the exhibition