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Published 15th Feb 2018

community art project gains momentum

A community art project that will become a centrepiece at a popular nature reserve has stepped up a notch following a creative workshop attended by Middlesbrough young people.

One Planet Pioneers hosted the workshop for 14- to 21-year-olds during half-term, alongside local artist Sara Calgie from The Start Studio and staff and students from Unity City Academy. During the event young people were encouraged to explore a range of art materials and techniques to create an individual tile that will become a part of the finished artwork – a journey path situated at the reserve ponds at Berwick Hills Nature Reserve which will use inspiration from the surrounding area, the young people’s reflections and thoughts.

The project has been funded by Berwick Hills Community Council who awarded One Planet Pioneers £700 to deliver the project, which is designed to encourage young people to become more engaged with their local environment and the history of local area.

Ahead of the half-term workshop, seven GCSE art students from Unity City Academy took part in enrichment sessions including a guided walk to understand the history of the Boro Becks and the significance of Ormesby Beck to the River Tees and an outdoor art lesson where they collected natural materials to inspire the artwork.

One Planet Pioneers is a collaboration between Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC), Actes Trust and Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, which aims to develop the skills of young people through environmental projects. The project is one of 31 UK wide projects forming the Our Bright Future programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

One Planet Pioneers officer Nicky Morgan, said: “The free creative art workshop was a big success and another milestone in this exciting community artwork project, generously funded by Berwick Hills Community Council.

“It was great to see the UCA art students working with Sara Calgie to mentor other young people from the community to play a role in what is shaping up to be a really eye-catching and significant piece of artwork for the local area, which everyone involved can take ownership for in the long-term.”

Sara Calgie from The Start Studio, a Community Interest Company that aims to raise the perceived value of arts in education and the community, said: “This is exactly the kind of project that supports learning, community and connections, which are our aims too. We couldn’t be happier to work in partnership and we’re excited at the anticipated potential outcomes for the young people.”

Paul Lickley, head of art at Unity City Academy (UCA), said: “Seven of our year 10 students were chosen to take part in the community art project run by One Planet Pioneers. This is a great opportunity for them to add work into their GCSE coursework as a live project, and luckily their project for this term is natural forms which fit in well with the community project. They also get the added bonus of working with a local artist and get their work installed at the Berwick Hills Nature Reserve.”

Councillor Julie McGee, representative of Berwick Hills Community Council, said: “Berwick Hills and Pallister Park Community Council welcome the work that One Planet Pioneers are doing with young people from Unity City Academy. Creating a positive place to live and enjoy for the people who live in Berwick Hills and Pallister Park is important and we need our young people to actively engage with their environment.

“It is important that students have an opportunity to work with local artists to create a lasting piece of work which they can be proud of. Local councillors applaud this innovative project and look forward to seeing many more.”

For more details or to register an interest in One Planet Pioneer activities call Nicky or Casper at Middlesbrough Environment City on 01642 579839/579832 or email Nicky at

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