The Great North Passion

The Great North Passion


Posted 2014-03-18 by Margaret Watersfollow

Fri 18 Apr 2014

How do you express some of humanity's finer qualities such as truth, compassion, kindness, self-sacrifice and love?

How about placing a fishing boat on top of a giant shipping container and draping its nets around the said crate then inviting people to come inside and discover the definition of 'Truth'?

That's just one artist's innovative idea of using art to express these concepts, and there's more brilliant ideas to come.

So it's safe to say that Easter in South Tyneside takes a different path this year. With a huge undertaking to televise the event via the BBC as the borough re-enacts the 'Passion of the Christ' using a giant art installation in the Bents Park on South Shields seafront this Easter. This ground-breaking event looks set to enthrall the audiences and showcase the region's talent.

is an inspirational and ambitious project commissioned by the BBC in partnership with The Cultural Spring and The Arts Council of England and brings together art organizations from across the North East of England as it offers a contemporary interpretation of the Easter 'Passion' with traditional concepts of the stations of the Cross infused with artistic flair from a variety of disciplines, including street dancing, opera, sculpture, photography, film making, graffiti art, performance poetry, music from one half of 'The Futureheads' band from Sunderland and choral music from a mass choir, to name just a few.

The notion of acting out the 'Passion of the Christ' dates back to earliest Christian times when pilgrims wished to gain more understanding and experience the suffering of Christ through the retelling of the story in times before film, television and the web became our main sources of information.

The number of the stages of Jesus' final journey has varied over the centuries with different interpretations entering religious rituals, particularly in the Roman Catholic church, during the Middle Ages.

The idea is to use shipping containers to recreate each stage of Jesus' journey from his trial and condemnation by Roman Governor Pontius Pilate to his eventual crucifixion as he bears his cross through the streets of Jerusalem.

To celebrate Easter, the BBC's Religion and Ethics department has commissioned twelve installations to form this innovative piece which it hopes will build on its previous successes such as 'The Preston Passion' in 2012 (see a clip) and gain national and international acclaim following its live broadcast this Good Friday.

The shipping crates were delivered to art groups across the region from Northumberland to Teeside at the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday – 5 March 2014) with the remit of using local talent from a range of cultural backgrounds to create and original piece of work for each section of the final installation that tells the story of the 'Passion of the Christ'. Each project has its own named artistic director, all of them local and currently active within the community in all forms of the visual and performing arts.

Workshops have been held at venues across the North East with each exhibit working to a a theme based on one of the 'Stations of the Cross'.

For example in South Tyneside, Boldon Community Association's break-dancing group, ' The Bad Taste Cru ' will be pushing the boundaries with their own choreography and performance of a work based on the second station of the Cross. The BTC gained acclaim for their 'Hip Hop Theatre productions and will be performing to a specially written music score from DJ and music producer Ken Masters on the theme of 'burden'.

Meanwhile the North East Photography Network based at Sunderland Minster are designing an exhibition that deals with the experience of loss – reflecting the sense of loss felt by Mary as she prepares for the death of her son. Under the direction of Julian Germain, this installation will represent the fourth station of the Cross and will use locally sourced photographs and original material from a broad spectrum of local curators and contributors to create an exhibit based on family and community and the stories behind the images.

Other ideas are a huge mural created by Aerosol Ali & GEM Arts and a locally informed and influenced piece of music written and performed by Ross Millard & Jaff Craig / The Futureheads. For further information see here .

Each exciting project will then be relocated and the shipping containers repositioned in the iconic shape of a cross at Bents Park, South Shields.

Television presenter Fern Britton will host the show, which is being televised live on BBC1 at 12 noon on Good Friday - 18th April 2014. Tickets are complementary and available on a random selection basis. Applications must be in by 24th March 2014 with a maximum issue of six tickets per household.

The 'Passion will be an outside broadcast and there will be no seating or shelter so you are advised to dress appropriately if you are allocated a ticket.

The park has become a hugely popular venue for numerous events staged by the local council in recent times, including last year's Summer Festival with culminated in the launch of the 'Soundwaves' festival.

South Shields is well served by the Tyne & Wear Metro from Newcastle - with the seafront about 15 minutes walk from the town centre Metro station. The seafront has numerous car parks and local buses E1 and the no. 10 both have routes that pass the Bents Park.
The Shields Ferry operates every half hour between North and South Shields and is a little further to walk - or you could hop on one of the above mentioned buses near the Market Place.

!date 18/04/2014 -- 18/04/2014
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