Creative Common – 40th Anniversary of Tees Valley Arts

In 1982, the charity organisation Cleveland Arts was established. 40 years later, Cleveland Arts celebrates their 40th anniversary at the Redcar Palace, under it’s new name Tees Valley Arts. The name change from Cleveland Arts to Tees Valley Arts occurred back in 2003, but the overall message remained the same – to use the arts as a means to create social change.

Creative Common is a show that celebrates these incredible 40 years, and looks back on some of the key work done by the organisation. On display are pieces from our archive – from old CDs, DVDs and cassette tapes, to booklets, flyers and quarterly newsletters. On the walls of the exhibition hall is a comprehensive timeline of events and projects, starting at 1982, all the way to 2022.

The Creative Common show also flows into our Garden Room, with the Palace Collection hung on the wall painted “Saltburn Ochre”. This is a paint has been produced by artist Onya McCausland, and has been sourced from a mine water treatment site in Saltburn, using the recycled ochre residues as pigment. This paint is available for free to community groups and organisations in the local area.

For the current exhibition Redcar Palace’s Garden Room is transforming into a making space. The room is an invitation for our visitors to come and make with us and to consider two basic questions: “what can be used as a tool?” and “what can be used as a material?”

We have found inspiration for this space from the Italian designer Enzo Mari (1932-2020) who reacted against the commercialism of the design world and encouraged people to design and make for themselves. He is perhaps most famous for his 1974 project which he called Autoprogettazione (roughly translated as self- design). With this he provided designs to construct 19 different pieces of furniture using only a hammer, some nails and standard cuts of cheap pine. Enzo’s hope was that these designs would not only show how to make furniture but also help people to think through the process of design and develop their own variations. He provided his plans free of charge to anyone who sent him a stamped addressed envelope.

Over the life of this exhibition, we are going to start re-furnishing the gallery space using Mari’s designs and you are welcome to come along and build with us.

A second inspiration for us is our new allotment space at Zetland Park. Allotments are so often hives of creativity: they are not
just sites for growing food, they are so often active celebrations of re-use. We will see old sinks and baths become planters, palettes become compost heaps and assorted doors, windows and random bits of wood re-assembled to become makeshift sheds. We will be thinking about what we can make with the things we can grow or find on our allotment, be that the fruit from the trees, the clay from the ground, the weeds we remove or the discarded pieces of wood we find lying around.