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New animated film celebrates ‘close knit’ communities in South East Northumberland

14/06/2022

New animated film celebrates ‘close knit’ communities in South East Northumberland

Developed over two years in partnership with diverse groups from across South East Northumberland, Museums Northumberland bait is proud to present one of the final projects in its ten-year programme – Close Knit.

The animated documentary film shares people’s stories and experiences of life in South East Northumberland, and highlights their hopes and ambitions for the future.

Inspired by the Aardman Animations stop motion clay animation series ‘Creature Comforts’, and the creativity of Bedlington resident Carole Fife, Close Knit uses animation, film, sculpture, modeling and music to reflect the diverse community of people that call South East Northumberland home in 2022.

Rachel Adam, Project Director of Museums Northumberland bait, said: “At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the creative pursuit of local resident Carole Fife caused quite a stir as she developed a knitted cast of characters that played out stories in her front window.

“Working with animator, Sheryl Jenkins, we helped develop Carole’s characters into a short animation. This sparked interest from other people in South East Northumberland and we brought together a decision making group to commission a bigger creative project that would involve people from the wider community.

“Close Knit was born, and what followed was a rewarding two-year project that saw local people share their favourite places, stories, sounds and music that best reflects their lives in South East Northumberland.”

The finished animated documentary, which received its premiere to an invited audience at the Phoenix Theatre, Blyth on Friday 10 June was then shown to the public for the first time at the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic on Saturday 11 June.

It was created by people living in South East Northumberland working with animator Sheryl Jenkins; sound artist and musician, Alison Carlier; artist and filmmaker Amanda Loomes; and Museums Northumberland bait. Bedlington Animation Group and Northumberland College ICT Level 2 and 3 students also worked with the creative team to develop the artwork and create animations.

Animator Sheryl Jenkins said: “Close Knit has been an exciting project with collaboration at its heart. There has been a strong element of people supporting one another. At a weird time for everyone, we had a motivation to catch up and focus on something together. I’ve loved how everyone has brought their own creative input and found ways to engage in the project.”

Close Knit is a nostalgic and heartwarming trip down memory lane, as well as talking about hopes for the future and reflections on life in South East Northumberland today. Bakri Aasi performs a traditional Syrian folk tune and Jayess Newbiggin Brass Band perform the North Eastern folk song ‘Cushie Butterfield’. There is also music from Carlos Valencia and Alison Carlier; Jason Thompson; and Bedlington Community Choir.

Carole Fife said: “Being involved in Close Knit was a series of challenges to keep me going during lockdown. If my brain isn’t active, I keep falling into the slough of despond – and reach for the biscuit tin!

Talking about the launch event, Carole said, “I won’t forget Friday, it was just a magical day. We made it to the big screen!”

Michael Lee, got involved in Close Knit as part of his ICT course at Northumberland College and was also part of the planning group for the launch event. “Close Knit has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve tried new things and learnt new skills. I feel so proud to have been involved.”

Close Knit will be presented at events across South East Northumberland through the summer. Details will be published at baittime.to/close-knit. The film is also available to view online at baittime.to/close-knit.

Notes to Editors

About Museums Northumberland bait

Museums Northumberland bait works in partnership to support more people in South East Northumberland to create and take part in inspiring and high quality arts experiences. All projects aim to build a stronger future with the people who live here.

Museums Northumberland bait is part of the Creative People and Places programme and is funded by Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council.

Our Consortium Partners are Museums Northumberland, Northumberland CVA, Northumberland College, Northumberland County Council (Public Health and Culture) and Queens Hall Arts.

Learn more about the work of Museums Northumberland bait by visiting http://baittime.to/

10 Years of Creative People and Places

This year marks 10 years of the Creative People and Places programme. We are celebrating its impact and success over the past decade, helping more communities enjoy high quality cultural experiences.

With £108 million investment nationally in the programme since its launch through Arts Council England in 2012, Creative People and Places projects have empowered communities across the country to take the lead in deciding what creative activities they want and need.

The projects have a wide-ranging, positive impact on individuals and communities in parts of the country where involvement in arts and culture is significantly below the national average. There have been over 7.5 million engagements with the programme – 86% of which are from groups with low to medium engagement with arts and culture.

Over the next three years, Arts Council England is investing £38.3 million in Creative People and Places through National Lottery funding, so more communities can choose the creativity and culture on offer in their local area.

Arts Council England is committed to supporting Creative People and Places projects in helping ‘everyone, everywhere’ enjoy creativity and culture as part of the Let’s Create strategy.

Watch the Film