New life shines a light on life in south east Northumberland

An animated film that was developed over two year has shone a light on life in south east Northumberland.

By David Sedgwick
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:59 pm
Audience watching the Close Knit premiere at the Phoenix Theatre, Blyth.
Audience watching the Close Knit premiere at the Phoenix Theatre, Blyth.

Developed over two years in partnership with diverse groups, Museums Northumberland bait presented one of the final projects in its ten-year programme – Close Knit.

The animated documentary film shares people’s stories and experiences of life in south east Northumberland, highlighting their hopes and ambitions for the future.

Inspired by the Aardman Animations stop motion clay animation and the creativity of Bedlington resident Carole Fife, Close Knit uses animation, film, sculpture, modeling and music to reflect the diverse community.

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The Close Knit exhibition of work.

Rachel Adam, project director of Museums Northumberland bait, said: “At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the creative pursuit of local resident Carole caused quite a stir as she developed a knitted cast of characters that played out stories in her front window.

“Working with animator, Sheryl Jenkins, we helped develop Carole’s characters into a short animation.

"This sparked interest from other people in South East Northumberland and we brought together a decision making group to commission a bigger creative project that would involve people from the wider community.

“Close Knit was born, and what followed was a rewarding two-year project that saw local people share their favourite places, stories, sounds and music that best reflects their lives in South East Northumberland.”

The finished animated documentary, which received its premiere to an invited audience at the Phoenix Theatre in Blyth on Friday, June 10, was then shown to the public for the first time at the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic on June 11.

It was created by people working with animator Sheryl Jenkins; sound artist and musician, Alison Carlier; artist and filmmaker Amanda Loomes; and Museums Northumberland bait.

Bedlington Animation Group and Northumberland College ICT Level 2 and 3 students also worked with the creative team to develop the artwork and create animations.

Sheryl said: “Close Knit has been an exciting project with collaboration at its heart. I’ve loved how everyone has brought their own creative input and found ways to engage in the project.”

Close Knit is a nostalgic and heartwarming trip down memory lane, as well as talking about hopes for the future and reflections on life in South East Northumberland today.

Carole said: “Being involved in Close Knit was a series of challenges to keep me going during lockdown.”

Talking about the launch event, Carole said: "I won't forget it, it was just a magical day. We made it to the big screen!"

Michael Lee got involved in Close Knit as part of his ICT course at Northumberland College and was also part of the planning group for the launch event.

Michael said: “Close Knit has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve tried new things and learnt new skills. I feel so proud to have been involved.”

Close Knit will be presented at events across south east Northumberland through the summer. Details will be published at baittime.to/close-knit

The film is also available to view online at baittime.to/close-knit