Region-wide programme of cultural events announced to coincide with the display of the Gospels at Laing Art Gallery

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Region-wide programme of cultural events announced to coincide with the display of the Gospels at Laing Art Gallery
Matthew Evangelist portrait, Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) British Library Board.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE.- A year-long series of cultural events inspired by the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels in the North East in autumn 2022, will take place in towns and cities across the region, beginning in January and peaking in autumn with two new visitor attractions for the region and the focal exhibition of the Gospels at the Laing Art Gallery, in a landmark loan from the British Library.

From Hartlepool to Hexham, Berwick-upon-Tweed to Bishop Auckland, multiple venues and locations will invite visitors to explore, experience and enjoy a wealth of events, all drawing inspiration from different aspects of the 1300-year-old manuscript. Beginning in January and running through to May 2022, the programme opens with Monogatari: The art of storytelling in Japanese woodblock prints at the Oriental Museum in Durham.

Organised in partnership with the National Museum of Japanese History, the exhibition is the first opportunity for visitors to enjoy the J P Scott Collection of Japanese woodblock prints donated to the Oriental Museum in 2019. Meaning ‘tale’, ‘story’ or ‘narrative’, monogatari is a literary genre that flourished between the 9th and 14th centuries that continues to this day.The Durham exhibition explores how colourful Japanese prints were used to illustrate famous tales of samurai, travellers and heroes during the 18th and 19th centuries and how, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this style evolved to tell real-life news stories of conflict during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars.

Opening in March and split between Durham and Sunderland, a project led by National Glass Centre named Glass Exchange, will see four, established contemporary artists create new work in glass. The displays will remain in situ until the end of September 2022.

Ryan Gander will create an installation within a disused shop in Sunderland city centre. It will recreate a recently abandoned betting shop entirely in clear glass. Ghost Shop Illuminated (working title) reflects on the changing state of our city centres.

Over at Sunderland Minster, Pascale Martine Tayou’s Colonial Ghost focuses our attention on the links between colonialization and Christianity. Ultimately, 25 crosses will be displayed, with each one made using five African figures sculpted in hot glass.
At Durham cathedral, Katie Paterson explores time and reflects on environmental change. She has created a number of hourglasses, which contain dust from crushed meteors predating earth, while a glass urn will contain over 300 samples of dust taken from objects dating from the beginning of earth’s history to the present day.
Also in the cathedral Monster Chetwynd will be displaying several dioramas, each depicting a key scene from the life of St. Cuthbert and St. Bede respectively. There will also be an accompanying exhibition in the main gallery of National Glass Centre alongside these 4 displays.

Another event taking place in Durham, at the cathedral and World Heritage Site from 16-18 April 2022, revolves around light projections shone onto its 12th-century faade, music and drama performances, lectures, a family fun day and food market.
Between March and October 2022, Museums Northumberland will present 'A Northumberland Menagerie', a stunning series of new works by local artist Bethan Maddocks. Discover stories of Northumberland's animals, past and present, real and imagined, through Bethan's magical, large-scale paper-cut installations at Woodhorn Museum, Berwick Museum & Art Gallery, Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum and Hexham Old Gaol.

Berwick’s Gymnasium Gallery hosts Suki Chan’s film installation Still Point throughout summer (18 June – 4 September 2022). Following themes of sacred spaces and places of pilgrimage, Still Point transports the audience from the site of the humble wooden structures offering refuge along the Pilgrims’ Way in Northumberland, to contested sacred sites in Jerusalem, and the interior spaces of abandoned Syrian villages in the Golan Heights.

Two major new attractions will also be launched to coincide with the Inspired by Lindisfarne Gospels 2022 programme in the autumn. The brand-new Faith Museum in Bishop Auckland, England’s first museum designed to explore the story of faith in Britain and its meaning today will open. Located in the historic Scotland Wing of Auckland Castle, complete with a new extension designed by Nall McLaughlin Architects, the Faith Museum display will use historic and contemporary objects, works of art and personal stories, to consider what faith is, how it has shaped Britain, and invite visitors to consider what faith means for them. Visitors will be able to discover stories of belief from 5,000 years of history, from the creeds of communities in the deep past, to today’s multi-religious society. Its opening display will focus on the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The second new attraction is the Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery, in Wooler, Northumberland. Opening in autumn 2022, Ad Gefrin will be a fully immersive AV and museum experience bringing to life the Northumbrian Golden Age and the court of its Kings and Queens in their 7th century royal summer palace discovered at Yeavering only a few miles away – one of the finest Anglo Saxon archaeological sites in Europe. Ad Gefrin will celebrate a time more than 1000 years ago when Northumbria was the most powerful kingdom in all England and capture the origins of the rich culture that spawned the Lindisfarne Gospels almost a century later.

Autumn will also see 40 life size illuminated sheep appear across villages, towns and landscape in Northumberland. The Inspired by events in Northumberland will take themes of Light, Sheep and Pilgrimage which are referenced in the manuscript of the Gospels. Digital and light artist Deepa Mann-Kler, will create the flock which will be adopted by communities and hosted spaces across the county. A series of trails will be created that can be completed on foot, bike or public transport to see the sheep in their diverse locations. This will create a modern-day pilgrimage highlighting the landscape, culture and heritage of Northumberland.

Also in autumn the Festival of Flame will take place in Northumberland. The patterns and shapes of the Gospels' 'carpet' illustrations will be recreated in fire using over 1,000 tea light candles and light-based installations at Hexham Abbey and other Northumberland locations. The installations will be complemented by a specially commissioned soundtrack and large-scale outdoor fire gardens. Satellite fire installations will take place in a variety of indoor heritage, cultural, urban and rural settings.

In Newcastle cathedral, Exploring the Lindisfarne Gospels (17 September- 1 December 2022) presents a number of events that combine key elements of Christian faith; art, music and the written word.

In Seeing the Word: Twitter Gospels 2.0, curated by Dr Andrew Richardson, visitors will see an interactive data visualisation of the Lindisfarne Gospels, which digitally 'illuminates' the words using social media data of online activity and engagement with the texts. A treat for the senses, will be an evening of plainsong and traditional Northumbrian pipes, while the Cathedral is also coordinating a series of tours and workshops connected to its precious 14th Century scriptures, the Hexham Bible, Northern Saints, the Gospels and their heritage, including stained glass, calligraphy, textile design, music, and storytelling.

In November, Hartlepool hosts A Celebration of Local History at its new Local History Centre, located within Sir William Gray House. With objects drawn from its collection, visitors will see historic books and manuscripts, along with the Antiphoner (a bound collection of psalms and hymns sung in church services), on loan from Durham Cathedral. An exhibition of religious paintings can also be seen in the Long Gallery.

During the autumn, Jarrow Hall Museum invites us to take a closer look at Mediterranean influences on Early Medieval manuscripts and art. Visitors will be able to see a full-sized facsimile of the Codex Amiatinus on display in the Bede Museum, learn about Bede the Historian and take part in fun family friendly activities and other special events.

The entire Inspired by Lindisfarne Gospels programme is, of course, sparked by the exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery which will display the most spectacular manuscript to survive from Anglo-Saxon England, on loan from the British Library.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums art curators have worked with the British Library and with artists to explore the history of the Gospels, and how it can bring people together today by inspiring ideas about identity and sense of place.

Keith Merrin, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “It is wonderful that not only do we have the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels at the Laing Art Gallery to look forward to but we also have this amazing range of events, exhibitions and new attractions for people to enjoy right across our region as part of the Inspired by programme.

“There will be a spotlight on the North East in 2022 with must-see events like the Lindisfarne Gospels programme and also Hadrian’s Wall 1900 - celebrating, 1900 years since the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site was built. It is fantastic to see so much energy and activity in the arts and heritage offer in our region as we emerge from the pandemic.”

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