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Chance to experience global celebration of Sunderland

A collection of books inspired by Sunderland and produced by artists and enthusiasts from across the globe, is going on display at two Sunderland venues. 

The Sunderland Book Project began life in 2009 when North East artist Theresa Easton was commissioned to create a community arts programme in the city. 

It challenges artists, designers, comic makers, printmakers and art novices to make a book, using any production method, on the subject of Sunderland. 

Since its launch, the project has attracted global interest, with contributors from Brazil, Italy and Spain, as well as Sunderland, helping to build up a collection of over 60 handmade and printed books. 

Although some of the books’ creators have never visited Sunderland, each piece in the collection is based on a theme linked to the city. 

Some artists have interpreted their experiences of living, working or studying in the city, while others have portrayed Sunderland from afar, using the web to research its culture and heritage. 

Sunderland residents, businesses and students can now see the result for themselves, with the books going on permanent display at both Washington Old Hall and Fulwell community-led Library. 

Two copies of each book were submitted to the project, meaning both venues will host the full collection. 

Theresa Easton said:

“Hosting the exhibition in two very different venues - a grand National Trust attraction and a community centre – will attract different audiences and I want as many people as possible to see it. 

“There are so many stand-out pieces in the collection but my favourites include one produced by a local animal charity and another in which an Italian artist made a pop-up of the New Wear Crossing, years before its construction began. There really is something for everyone in the collection.” 

Cllr Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said:

“Sunderland is a culturally diverse and welcoming place, so it is fitting that this fantastic project has brought together creative talent from all over the world. The collection celebrates the city’s unique offering in many different ways and I urge everyone to take the opportunity to experience it.” 

Outside the UK, the Sunderland Book Project has a particularly strong following in the US, having been on display there several times. 

On a creative trade mission from Sunderland to Washington DC in 2009, organised as part of the sister city relationship, Easton exhibited at the Artomatic Exhibition in the American capital’s Navy Yard. 

During the trip she made links with the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in Hyattsville, Maryland, and the Sunderland Book Project was subsequently exhibited there.  

Easton uses printmaking and artists’ books to interpret heritage and social history – and to encourage art participation and engagement in local communities. 

She often works with alternative materials to paper, using printing techniques with glass, ceramics, brick clay and metal, and regularly delivers printmaking and bookbinding workshops. 

The Sunderland Book Project is on display at Washington Old Hall and Fulwell Library.