A Joyous celebration of Salvador Dalí and
community lit up Bishop Auckland Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Inspired by the arrival of Salvador Dalí’s masterpiece, Christ of Saint John of the Cross at The Auckland Project’s Spanish Gallery earlier this year, Dalí: Surreal Worlds was an interactive community event, which incorporated larger-than-life artworks, collaborative exhibitions, a street art trail, and a programme of exhilarating live entertainment and creative workshops.

“The work we are creating will provide quality cultural experiences for all ages of our community – an ideal which is the cornerstone of our organisational mission – alongside the opportunity to explore and respond to ideals of surrealism, self, faith, and consciousness.”

Developed to ‘bring the whole community to see the Dalí’, two large scale light installations, featuring the work and ideas of almost 200 local young people, offered a shining centrepiece to proceedings in the town’s Market Place and Auckland Tower for the afternoon-to-evening event.

The original artworks were created by North East artist Stuart Langley who, together with The Auckland Project’s Transformative Arts Officer Jilly Johnston, led participatory sessions with 120 children from local schools. These sessions informed and inspired the dome light structures which dominated the Market Place.

A second light installation, which illuminated Auckland Tower is was also created by artist Jane Crawford and supported by Create North – with students from Bishop Auckland College.
Stuart, who is responsible for the Beating Heart artwork which has now taken up permanent residence in Middlesbrough, said: “I like to focus on creating moments of magic set amongst the everyday. I think engaging with others in the creation of work is a brilliant way of getting people inspired by the power of art.

“For this project we knew we wanted to create an artwork which combined the drama of light and a compelling large-scale structure to be able to mirror the fascinating magnetism of Dali's work.

“The key motivation for me is to create something which doesn't directly replicate the work of Dali but echoes the sense of wonder and emotion you might get whilst being visually drawn into his work.”

Dalí: Surreal Worlds, which coincided with the popular Full Moon Market, saw the windows of local shops and businesses taken over by surreal street art created by graffiti collective Bish Vegas Legal Graff during a community ‘Big Paint’ gathering earlier that week.

One of the collective’s co-founders, Dan Walls, of Illumination Wall Art, said: “The colourful and bizarre works of Dalí have inspired me from being very young.

“I have often thought how good it would be to explore his themes in a mundane and very accessible setting like a high street. Transferring surrealism and Dalí’s imagery to street art and a graffiti style is going to be very interesting!”

More artwork from the schoolchildren who have taken part in the project was displayed in an exhibition at The Auckland Project’s community venue, No.42 and Auckland Tower. Meanwhile Daisy Arts ran a drop-in live interactive workshop throughout the event in the No.43 space.

Jane Crawford of Daisy Arts, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with The Auckland Project on Dali: Surreal Worlds.

Jilly Johnston, The Auckland Project’s Transformative Arts Officer, said: “Dalí: Surreal Worlds has been developed to offer a community-wide celebration of having this iconic painting at the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland.

“It has been wonderful to offer so many children and young people the chance to explore the work of Dali and encourage them to embrace their imaginations and to look at art and life in a different way.”

The soundtrack for the evening will be the fast-paced, high energy Latin American rhythms of the Jack Drum Arts samba band, Runaway Samba, who will be performing live on the night. There will also be entertainment from engaging comedy walkabout troupe, Los Skankos.

Dalí: Surreal Worlds was delivered in partnership with Bridge Creative, a social enterprise which provides employment opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and autism to work on live events.

Jilly added: “We’re grateful to all our partners for making it possible for so many people to play their part in this project. We can’t wait to see everyone making the most of the chance to immerse themselves in what we’re sure will be a joyful and unforgettable evening.”

In the run up to the event people were also invited to take a stroll among the 150 acres of Auckland Castle’s Deer Park, where eight surrealist art installations – created by The Auckland Project’s Young Artists Collective – will be waiting to be discovered. The trail launched on October 22.

Dalí: Surreal Worlds is an Auckland Project production delivered with support from Bishop Auckland Town Council and enabled by a grant from Arts Council England and the National Lottery.

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