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Credit_ Von Fox Promotions

CITY OF KITTIWAKES

City of Kittiwakes was a heritage, arts and environmentally-focused participatory project as part of Newcastle Puppetry Festival 2024. Two weeks of free-to-access community workshops at the John Marley Centre in Scotswood culminated in a parade to 5,000 people on Northumberland Street to open the 5th edition of the festival.

City of Kittiwakes was a heritage, arts and environmentally-focused participatory project as part of Newcastle Puppetry Festival 2024. Two weeks of free-to-access community workshops at the John Marley Centre in Scotswood culminated in a parade to 5,000 people on Northumberland Street to open the 5th edition of the festival. The project involved over 200 North East of England residents to create the puppets, costumes and art pieces in the parade, alongside a team of professional artists. The project was inspired by iconic seabird the kittiwake, which nests under the Tyne Bridge - the largest inland colony of kittiwakes in the world. The kittiwake represents migration, sanctuary and is a symbol of North East England's diverse fauna and natural environments.

 

Participants wrote phrases inspired by the kittiwake, which were integrated as feathers on the giant kittiwake puppet. Some of these phrases were also turned into the banners in the parade. Composer Jayne Dent / Me Lost Me worked with West End Refugee Service members to write a new folk song inspired by the kittiwake - you can hear some of this new song 'Still Bright Bird' in the soundtrack to this video.

 

Following the parade, some of the puppets, costumes and art pieces were displayed at the Great North Museum: Hancock for two weeks. The project also facilitated four Guided Heritage Walks on the Quayside with historian David Silk, and five conservation workshops and events with Wild Intrigue and Natural History Society of Northumbria.

"Throughout the workshops I learnt new skills, connected with local history and heritage, and by the time the parade arrived, we were all one community working together."

– 2023 parade participant

Project Credits

Concept / Direction: Kerrin Tatman

Engagement Lead: Vicky Tate

Producers: Kerrin Tatman, Becky Pereira, JonJoe Clennell

Production Manager: Louise Gregory

Heritage Lead: David Silk

Folksong Lead & Composer: Jayne Dent

Lead Artists: Alison Duddle, Chloe Rodham, Jo Feijó, Judith Hope, Rosie Bristow, Will Steele

Assistant Artists: Bronwyn Riani, Ellie Phillips, Mark Rogerson 

Visual Evaluator and Illustrator: Becky Musgrove

Videography / Photography: Von Fox Promotions

 

And a HUGE thank you to all of the individual participants and community groups who made the project possible!

 

Community groups/partners included: 

Arcadea Disability Arts, Children North East, Elders Council, Friends Action North East, Healthworks, Herb Hub UK, Learning for Life, Leamington Scouts, Newcastle Circus Arts, Newcastle College, Percey Hedley, The Bangshees, The Story Tellers Street Band, West End Refugee Service

 

A big thank you to the Great North Museum: Hancock for hosting the exhibition!

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Make sure to check out the blog post written by our Heritage Lead David Silk who explores Newcastle Gateshead stories linked to the Quayside, where the kittiwakes annually come to roost.

HERitage blog

Puppets in the Press!

Click the yellow button to check out the BBC Newcastle feature on the City of Kittiwakes project and parade!

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City of Kittiwakes Summary Video:

"The parade was fantastic and it was just such a joyful and inviting atmosphere. We all need to remind ourselves more often of things like play, fun, community and this was a great invitation to do so - a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the worries, fears and stress of these times. Thanks for organising such a great festival in Newcastle, it's definitely something to be proud of for residents!"

– 2024 parade participant

CITY OF KITTIWAKES GALLERY

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