From July to October 2020, the people of Bishop Auckland and beyond will be able to take part in five different online projects which aim to uncover memories, stories, crafts, people and places that reflect the history and heritage of the town.

In a partnership between The Council’s community arts team and the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone, these five projects come together to make ‘Hidden Bishop Auckland’, which will run online throughout the summer.

Each creative project has been made in conjunction with local and regional artists. Due to government restrictions on our freedom, the projects have been redeveloped and will be delivered online through social media and digital platforms.

The free projects have been designed to engage with people of all ages and abilities. For each activity, people can send in their creative submissions for a chance to be featured in this year’s Bishop Auckland History and Heritage Festival, which will take place online in October, as well as displayed in an exhibition in 2022 in Bishop Auckland Town Hall. There will also be other activities as part of the festival to be announced soon.

‘Hidden Stories’, produced by artist Richard Bliss, will launch on 22 July. Participants can help Richard discover the history of the town hall and inspire the creation of a “workers shirt” in the style that would have been worn in the 1800s when the venue was built. People can join his virtual “town gatherings” via Zoom to hear a talk and share stories of the town hall, its more recent history, its origins and its links with music. Zoom places will be limited and can be booked via email to [email protected]

Richard will also be delivering short online workshop via social media on how to conserve your own heirlooms and artefacts and, for younger members of the family, how to make a puppet from old clothing.

‘Hidden Gems’, with photographer Lee Dobson, will launch on 1 August. Lee will be talking budding photographers through a series of engaging short tutorials online via social media, focusing on taking shots around Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Action Zone area. People can then send in their images of local landmarks, building features and structures based on a number of themes. Some images will be chosen to be included on one of 12 designs for digital postcards.

‘Hidden Places in Faces’, with artist Stu Langley, will launch on 20 July. For this project, Stu is asking people to take and submit some video footage of their favourite places in Bishop Auckland. Sending these in along with a photo of their head in profile, Stu will then animate a film which will celebrate places in faces. Stu will deliver a series of short social media tutorials using free to download apps which will help people digitally animate their own film.

‘Hidden Crafts’, by local arts organisation Daisy Arts, will launch online on 20 July. Daisy Arts will deliver a series of online short craft activity sessions created for both children and adults using different techniques and easily sourced materials and recycling. People can make a wildflower brooch, a pop-up structure, build a tower, try mosaic art and make a kite to fly.

There will also be a limited number of doorstep activity packs which can be delivered directly to homes and will include all the resources to make a Midsummer cushion. Activities will run in the summer holidays and during October half-term.

‘Hidden Words’ is already underway. In this project, Dr Lucie Brownlee is gathering recollections of community events, significant happenings, and of how the town’s buildings and landmarks were in the past. Working with the staff and residents of Sandringham Care Home, these stories will be published as podcasts and broadcast on Bishop FM during the history and heritage festival.

Hidden Bishop Auckland is funded through Durham County Council’s Towns and Villages Fund and its community arts team, South Durham Enterprise Agency, and Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone, which is funded by Historic England and Durham County Council.

Cllr Joy Allen said: “Hidden Bishop Auckland has a host of fun online activities of all varieties, from photography to crafts, podcasts and video. Through each of the five projects there is plenty on offer for people of all ages to get involved in this summer and a great chance to learn more about the dynamic heritage of Bishop Auckland.”

Jules Brown, historic places advisor at Historic England, said: “These projects will help local people discover more about their town. The period of lockdown has seen many people walking in their local area and discovering heritage on their doorstep. These activities give them an opportunity to be creative and celebrate their love of the town.”

All entries from the projects should be sent to [email protected]. Entries should state the name of the project in the subject line of the email, for example, Hidden Gems. Photos and videos should have a person’s first name and the initial of their surname as the file name.

For more information about Hidden Bishop Auckland’s summer activities, visit the project’s Facebook page @BishopAucklandhaz and @BishopTownHall

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