STABLE at Festival of Thrift 2016


Located in Kirkleatham estate’s renovated 18th century Grade II* listed stable block STABLE was a unique project bringing together the creativity and expertise of Navigator North and Festival of Thrift in order to showcase new work by established and emerging visual artists and celebrate the talent of North East based artists during Festival of Thrift 2016.

Through a regional call out 5 emerging artists were selected to receive a bursary to include working with established artists on the STABLE project. Bringing their creative practice and new works to a public audience and to gain first hand experience of that process – building valuable experience, connections and genuine sector specific skills to enhance their career in the arts.


Festival of Thrift director, Stella Hall, says that the project is designed to highlight the value of the arts in building resilient and sustainable communities.

She added: “The Festival is all about inspiring people to live a happy, fulfilled life that doesn’t cost the earth and creativity is a wonderful way of achieving that and prompting people to think differently.”

“Art and creativity underpin so much of what makes life enjoyable and meaningful so we are delighted to be able to celebrate that with the STABLE project and support developing artists and champion an amazing artist like Steve at the same time.”


Works from the emerging artists included; a walk-through woven installation, a series of cast sandcastle sculptures, an equestrian themed shadow sculpture, a film installation responding to horse racing and a light and sound responsive suspended ceramic and glass installation.

Nicola Golightly, Navigator North Co-Director says: “Working with Festival of Thrift for the fourth year running, we are looking forward to supporting the STABLE artists via our professional development bursary. The event offers an exciting platform for showing the work of 5 talented emerging regional artists alongside our established artist.”

Group at Stables credit to Jason Hynes

Above – left to right; Christina Hesford, Paul Murray, Vicky Holbrough (Navigator North), Kirsty Childs, Steve Messam, Stella Hall (Festival of Thrift), Janet Rogers, Nicola Golightly (Navigator North), Becky Nicholson, Alex Nicholson (Festival of Thrift). 
Here’s a film covering the event and the STABLE artists –


Kirsty Childs

Born in Middlesbrough, Kirsty has just completed her degree in Fine Art at Teesside University having previously studied her foundation at Cleveland collage of Art and Design.

She specialises in film and sculpture and describes herself as an artist who aims to question how we consider the world around us by drawing attention to areas of the built environment which goes unnoticed by others.  Her work is an artistic response to ideas around social control.


Above – The Last Post, Kirsty Childs, 2016

For STABLE Kirsty created an installation within one of the empty stalls previously inhabited by race horses.

The work tackles the British horse racing arena where complex issue of class and gender collide. Using her own and found footage Kirsty Childs made a film showing some of the excitement and exhilaration of a sample horse race, as seen through the eyes of a spectator.

The stable block where the work was shown was once the home of the English thoroughbred and champion horse the Flying Dutchman, regarded by experts as one of the greatest British racehorses of the nineteenth century. He raced for four seasons between 1848 and 1851, winning all but one of his fifteen races, including the Epsom Derby and the St Leger. His final racecourse appearance was probably the most celebrated match race in the history of British thoroughbred racing.

Christina Hesford

Christina was born in Indonesia and lived in Brazil before settling in Stockton-on-Tees, is a textile artist specialising in weave. Trained at Cleveland College of Art and Design and Manchester School of Art, she uses materials such as silk, linen, cotton, paper, and gold-foil to make artworks that explore the traces and experiences of humanity’s passage on Earth.


Above – Avenue, Christina Hesford, 2016

For STABLE Christina created ‘Avenue’  a large, site-specific, woven installation developed especially for the stables at Kirkleatham Museum. In order to fully experience the artwork, viewers were encouraged to walk through and upon it.

Supported on a steel framework, the artwork was hand-woven using hand-cut polythene sheeting and fire-hoses. The materials chosen reflect the recent history of arson within the stable blocks. Since 1990, the stables have been subject to arson three times, each time causing immense damage to the impressive Grade II listed buildings.

The hoses used to weave the walkway were de-commissioned fire-hoses kindly donated by the Redcar & Cleveland Fire Service. Woven using a herringbone structure, the pattern mirrors the beautiful tiling present on the main walkways of the stable block.

Steve Messam

Steve works around the world from his studio space in Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham.  He is renowned for his site-specific installations, setting visual accents in rural or urban settings, which include historical relics and vacant architecture to make people perceive the familiar environment in a new way.

As an artist Steve Messam has worked primarily outside the gallery environment for the past 18 years. In addition to his ‘PaperBridge’ work in 2015 his work includes ‘Clad’ (2009) – a traditional timber-framed cottage wrapped in the fleece of 300 local sheep in Newtown, Wales and ‘Carpet’ (2013) – an installation of 25,000 jars of coloured ink in Lindisfarne Priory. He created the first off-site installation at the 2006 Shanghai Biennial and created a number of site specific installations across the Venetian Lagoon during the 2009 Venice Biennale.


Above – Tower, Steve Messam, 2016

For STABLE Steve created a new piece called ‘Tower’, which was a temporary installation within the staircase block of the stables and involved large textile forms playing with the geometric architecture of the rear of the main stable block, attributed to architect James Gibbs who also designed the nearby Almshouses as well as St Martins in the Field and St Mary le Strand in London.

Paul Theo Murray

Middlesbrough-born Paul Theo Murray studied BA (Hons) Visual Communication at Leeds College of Art and took part in Navigator North’s NICE Programme for emerging artists before taking part in mima’s Emerging Curators project.  Since then Paul has worked on and created various creative projects and lives and works in Stockton-on-Tees.

Paul’s work explores the relationship between humans and nature. His work aims to identify the ways in which human beings connect and also disconnect from the natural world around us, on a daily basis.


Above – Golden Tops,Paul Theo Murray, 2016

For STABLE ‘Golden Tops’ was a site-specific installation of sculptural ‘sand castles’ made from a mixture of concrete and hay cast, which are a new-fashioned version of traditional building materials such as cob & abode.

At the end of Festival of Thrift, the sculptures were given a new lease of life, with audience members being invited to sign up to re-house the individual sculptures and take them away at the end of the festival. On receiving a sculpture, the new owners were asked to send a photograph of the sculpture in its new setting to the artist to form a new body of work.

Rebecca Nicholson

Rebecca Nicholson, a former pupil of Ian Ramsey School in Stockton and Stockton Sixth Form College who graduated this summer from Cleveland College of Art and Design with a BA (Hons) in Production Design for Stage and Screen.

Aiming to base her practice in Teesside and the north east, Rebecca’s work is multi-disciplinary and is constantly adapting to meet the needs of the space and the brief, often using traditional disciplines, such as painting and sculpture mixed with digital techniques to create her work.


Above – Dark Horse, Rebecca Nicholson, 2016

For STABLE Rebecca created a new work titled ‘Dark Horse’, which consisted of four sculptures created from recycled and found objects such as bottles tops, cereal boxes and plastic packaging. When these sculptures were lit by a spotlight from below the life-size shadow of a thoroughbred horse was projected onto the stable wall.

The works intention is that the true form of the sculptures will only be understood by looking at the shadow, otherwise they will appear simply to be distorted piles of trash. Designed to challenge the way people think about recycled/thrown away household waste the work encompasses the ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ philosophy.

Janet Rogers

Durham-based glass and porcelain artist Janet Rogers uses traditional craftsmen’s techniques with bold modern designs to produce vibrant works with a contemporary feel.  Janet Rogers is a self-taught glass and porcelain artist working from her studio in Durham City.

She works full time designing and producing commissions for domestic and commercial projects around Europe and the UK.


Above – The Glass Curtain, Janet Rogers, 2016

For STABLE Janet created a light and sound responsive suspended ceramic and glass installation called ‘The Glass Curtain’.

The intention behind the piece was to put back the splendour, affluence and grandeur the stables once had as Chomley Turner who inherited Kirleatham Hall and a vast amount of money, commissioned James Gibb the most prominent architect of the eighteenth century to design the Stable Block. At the same time the first specimen of hard white and vitrified porcelain was produced.  The Turners would almost certainly have had an abundance of porcelain in their palatial home.

Group at Stables 2 credit to Jason Hynes

All images by Jason Hynes