Stunning art installations for historic stable block at Festival of Thrift

Group at Stables credit to Jason Hynes

A project combining the talents of selected new and established artists from Teesside and County Durham is to create a series of striking new artworks to temporarily transform an historic stable block that is part of the Festival of Thrift site.

The Festival is a hugely popular free-to-enter event focussing on living sustainably in style that takes place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September at Kirkleatham Museum and grounds near Redcar on the North East coast.

Caption for Group shot: left to right; Christina Hesford, Paul Murray, Vicky Holbrough (Navigator North), Kirsty Childs, Steve Messam, Stella Hall (Festival of Thrift), Janet Rogers, Nicola Golightly (Navigator North), Becky Nicholson, Alex Nicholson (Festival of Thrift). Image by Jason Hynes

It offers visitors a programme of over 140 activities involving innovative and cutting-edge art and entertainment including the unique art project, ‘STABLE’, to be located in Kirkleatham estate’s renovated 18th century Grade II* listed stable block.

The project has been devised and is managed by arts organisation, Navigator North, which initiates, facilitates and promotes opportunities for visual artists to help further their creative practice.

It includes a bursary and mentoring by internationally renowned installation artist, Steve Messam and members of the Festival team, for five emerging north-east artists, selected following a regional call-out to create new work, whose artworks are being showcased at the event.

Steve’s previous work has included a spectacular bright red bridge in the Lake District made out of four tonnes of paper that was strong enough to carry a vehicle.

His work at the Festival, ‘Tower’, is a temporary installation within the staircase block of the stables.  It will involve large textile forms playing with the geometric architecture of the rear of the main stable block, attributed to architect James Gibbs who also designed the nearby Almshouses as well as St Martins in the Field and St Mary le Strand in London.

Festival of Thrift director, Stella Hall, says that the project is designed to highlight the value of the arts in building resilient and sustainable communities.

She added: “The Festival is all about inspiring people to live a happy, fulfilled life that doesn’t cost the earth and creativity is a wonderful way of achieving that and prompting people to think differently.”

“Art and creativity underpin so much of what makes life enjoyable and meaningful so we are delighted to be able to celebrate that with the STABLE project and both support developing artists and champion an amazing artist like Steve at the same time.”

Works from the emerging artists will include: a walk-through woven installation, a series of 80 cast sandcastle sculptures, an equestrian themed shadow sculpture, a film installation responding to horse racing and a light and sound responsive suspended ceramic and glass installation.

Nicola Golightly, Navigator North Co-Director says: “Working with Festival of Thrift for the fourth year running, we are looking forward to supporting the STABLE artists via our professional development bursary. The event offers an exciting platform for showing the work of five talented emerging regional artists alongside our established artist.”

The emerging artists that were selected for the project include self-taught glass and porcelain artist Janet Rogers from Durham; Teesside University Fine Art graduate film and sculpture maker, Kirsty Childs; Stockton-based Paul Theo Murray, a graduate in visual communications from Leeds College of Art; textile artist, Christina Hesford, a graduate of Hartlepool’s Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) and former Ian Ramsey School and Stockton Sixth form pupil, Becky Nicholson, a graduate in stage production also from CCAD.

The STABLE bursary is one of a series of opportunities being offered by Navigator North as part of its Professional Development Programme in 2016, which also includes business advice and training, visits to regional and national arts organisations and events as well as studio space and mentoring

For further information about Navigator North’s programme visit

For full details on the Festival of Thrift’s programme visit

 Biographies of the artists:

As well as leading the STABLE project and working with the new artists, Steve Messam is mentoring and sharing his experience as an established artist.

Steve works around the world from his studio space in Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham.  He is renowned for his site-specific installations, setting visual accents in rural or urban settings, which include historical relics and vacant architecture to make people perceive the familiar environment in a new way.

As an artist Steve Messam has worked primarily outside the gallery environment for the past 18 years. In addition to his ‘PaperBridge’ work in 2015 his work includes ‘Clad’ (2009) – a traditional timber-framed cottage wrapped in the fleece of 300 local sheep in Newtown, Wales and ‘Carpet’ (2013) – an installation of 25,000 jars of coloured ink in Lindisfarne Priory. He created the first off-site installation at the 2006 Shanghai Biennial and created a number of site specific installations across the Venetian Lagoon during the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Durham-based glass and porcelain artist Janet Rogers uses traditional craftsmen’s techniques with bold modern designs to produce vibrant works with a contemporary feel.

Janet has run Crushed Chilli Gallery in the city for the past five years, where she sells her own and other artists’ work as well as holding workshops for adults and children. By her own admission Janet says that she is “hooked on glass”.

Kirsty Childs specialises in film and sculpture and describes herself as an artist who aims to question how we consider the world around us by drawing attention to areas of the built environment which goes unnoticed by others. Her work is an artistic response to ideas around social control. Kirsty was born in Middlesbrough, and has just completed her degree in Fine Art at Teesside University having previously studied her foundation at Cleveland college of Art and Design.

Becky Nicholson, a former pupil of Ian Ramsey School in Stockton and Stockton Sixth Form College who graduated this summer from Cleveland College of Art and Design with a BA (Hons) in Production Design for Stage and Screen, is looking to use her skills as an artist to affect change and inspire, entertain and engage the public.

Aiming to base her practice in Teesside and the north east, Becky’s work is multi-disciplinary and is constantly adapting to meet the needs of the space and the brief, often using traditional disciplines, such as painting and sculpture mixed with digital techniques to create her work.

Middlesbrough-born Paul Theo Murray studied BA (Hons) Visual Communication at Leeds College of Art and took part in Navigator North’s NICE Programme for emerging artists before taking part in mima’s Emerging Curators project.  Since then Paul has worked on and created various creative projects and lives and works in Stockton-on-Tees.

Christina Hesford, who was born in Indonesia and lived in Brazil before settling in Stockton-on-Tees, is a textile artist specialising in weave. Trained at Cleveland College of Art and Design and Manchester School of Art, she uses materials such as silk, linen, cotton, paper, and gold-foil to make artworks that explore the traces and experiences of humanity’s passage on Earth.

– ends –

Diary date listing and event details

Event: Festival of Thrift
Date: Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September 2016
Place: Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds, Redcar, North East TS10 5NW
Time: 10am – 5pm
Cost: Free event. Parking £5 per car.
Details: , Twitter @Thriftfest , Facebook @festivalofthrift

Media enquiries:
Rachel Smith, , 07905215712



• The Festival of Thrift is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and enabled through partnership with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council.
• It is sponsored by Northumbrian Water and University of Teesside and supported through an award from the Teesside Offshore Wind Farm community benefit fund.
• Additional support in kind has been made available by PD Ports.
• The Festival was born in Darlington in 2012 and is growing up across the Tees Valley region, with a move to Kirkleatham for its fourth event.
• In 2015 the Festival won the Arts Award in the Observer Ethical Awards, which celebrate the people, organisations and campaigners who are leading the way to ensure we have an ethical future.
• The Festival won gold for the North East Tourist Event of 2015.

2016 event

• The Festival of Thrift takes place on Saturday September 17 and Sunday September 18 2016 10am – 5pm at Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds near Redcar on the north east coast.
• It is located in the tranquil village of Kirkleatham, in and around Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds, a Grade II listed building which dates from 1709 and now houses Kirkleatham Museum.
• Kirkleatham village has one of the best collections of Georgian-style buildings in England and the almshouses on the Festival site, which were were built in 1676, are architecturally and historically notable.
• Sustainable transport options are available to help festival goers get to the site.

Useful links:
About the festival:
Footage of Festival of Thrift 2015:
Festival team:
Annual report 2015:
Observer ethical award 2015:

• Navigator North –
• Steve Messam –

Emerging Artists:
• Janet Rogers –
• Becky Nicholson –
• Paul Theo Murray –
• Christina Hesford –


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