The Old Police House on Gateshead’s Swinburne Street has lain derelict for 10-years, until earlier this year, when Gateshead Council handed it over to a project partnering under-employed architecture graduates with school children and design students.
Space Invaders reclaim unwanted spaces and turn them into places for young people to create art.
It is one of 15 youth arts projects funded by NE-Generation, the Legacy Trust UK programme for the North East; creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.
Space Invaders is holding its first event at the Old Police House this Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5, from 12 noon to 5pm, and is inviting members of the public, young people and anyone interested in the arts to come and see the transformation and have their say on the future of Gateshead and the house.
Anna Spencer, project and information officer for NE-Generation, said: “This is a huge achievement for the young people involved in invading and transforming this unwanted property.
Our first event is important because as well as being an open house and exhibition of art we are also asking young people and the public for their opinions on how the house could be used in the future to benefit the area and its community.
NE-Generation would like to see the house continue as a creative space where young people can express themselves, explore new skills, find out more about the world and each other and channel their energies into art and creativity.”
The Space Invaders team, which is made up of eight teenagers aged 15-18, and members of archiGRAD, a collective of young architects and design graduates supported by Northern Architecture, have spent the last three months gutting the disused building.
They have stripped the house of rubble, debri, broken furniture and wall paper and sanded down surfaces before transforming the rooms into individual creative arts spaces, including:
- The Jungle Room and its mysterious tree
- Graphatorium – focused on graffiti and urban art styles
- The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
- The Free Room – featuring a giant Angel of the North and cartoon illustrations
Three of the Space Invaders attend Joseph Swan Academy in Gateshead. They have been inspired by the project to undertake work experience with a furniture maker, creating new pieces for the house, designed a graffiti mural and travelled to London to view art in galleries and museums as a reward for their commitment to the project.
The other members are BTEC Graphic Design students from Gateshead College, including 18-year-old Michael Ellerington. Michael recently won a £300 award from O2’s ‘Think Big’ initiative – which funds young people whose ideas stand to benefit the communities they live in. He is already planning to use the money to hold an arts event in the house.
Ben Ayrton, programme manager for NE-Generation, said: “Space Invaders is a fascinating and democratic project that gives young people a chance to decide how to take something neglected and unwanted, create art from it, involve other young people and ultimately make Gateshead a better place to live. Space Invaders is culture-led regeneration in action.”
The group was helped to claim the property by somewhereto_, a Legacy Trust UK funded project that helps young people aged 16-25 find the space they need to do the things they love within sports, culture and the arts.
Since 2009, NE-Generation has worked with 25 young leaders, from Northumberland to Teesside, who have so far co-commissioned 15 projects and allocated over £1million of funding as it seeks to create a shift in the way young people and the cultural sector work together.
NE-Generation has already worked directly with over 4,000 young people and reached audiences of over 200,000. Projects will be holding events, exhibitions, showcases and performances throughout the summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad celebrations.
For more about Space Invaders and its opening event click here
For more information about NE-Generation visit: www.ne-generation.org.uk