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Sea provides a flash of inspiration for creative challenge

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Published on 10 November 2020

Sea Sunderland
Sea Sunderland

Sea Sunderland, organised by our University, will promote the Seaburn area by producing seven recorded flash fictions to be showcased in December.

Six of the flashes will be from artists selected during the submissions process and one will be from the specially commissioned lead artist - Jessica Andrews, the author of award-winning novel ‘Saltwater’, who was also born in Sunderland.

The entries will be recorded by writers living, working in, or from, Sunderland. To submit an idea for consideration, entries can be recorded on a mobile phone and don’t have to be hi-tech.

A film of the seven flash fictions will be shown next month (December 14- 20), collated from the selected submissions. Six of the films will be drawn from submissions posted to Twitter with the hashtag #SeaSunderland.

All films will be 2 minutes recording time (max) - there is no word minimum or maximum.

Dr Sarah Dobbs, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Sea Sunderland coordinator, explained: “My hope is we encourage people in this strange time to create and reflect and have space to share their sea stories.

“Whether they identify as a writer or not, we very much wish to hear a unique and regional voice, hopefully sparking or continuing a journey in writing.”

She added: “We are also delighted proud that Jessica Andrews is our lead writer for the Sea Sunderland flash fiction project and will be writing an original piece of flash.

“Jessica says as a working-class woman, she never felt 'she deserved to speak'. Her Portico Prize Novel ‘Saltwater’ gives a voice to the working class and wild spaces the author has occupied in the poetic bodily language with which she writes.”

Lee Hall, Head of School of Media and Communications, added: “Sunderland has a unique voice in the region, as well as a unique relationship between the sea and its people. We are looking for the real voice of Sunderland from those who live, work or are born here. All writers, whether new or experienced, are encouraged to apply.”

The judges have asked for entrants to be inventive when it comes to the location of recording films, but the sea and the Seaburn area should feature in the recording.

Dr Dobbs said: “You could be near, on, or even in the sea - ensuring you take care. It can be static or involve movement. For those who cannot get near the sea, we will accept a voice recording or can make alternate arrangements.

“When thinking about what to write about, we don’t want you to be too prescriptive, so please feel free to interpret and imagine beyond the brief.

“You might write about your relationship to the sea, or to the Seaburn area of Sunderland. Do you take it for granted, do you walk there every day, do you fear the water, do you carry it in your heart when you are away?”

Writers interested in being one of the six selected authors can post a video recording of their flash, including the hashtag #SeaSunderland and @seasunderland between 16th November to 30th November.

Sea Sunderland is yet another example of how culture is shaping and inspiring our city. The university of Sunderland is partner of Sunderland Culture, an organisation  created to bring together Sunderland’s most important cultural assets and activities and realise the ambition of a city brimming with creative potential.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Graeme Thompson, is the Chair of Sunderland Culture, he said: “Sunderland Culture is all about unleashing creativity and we’re delighted the university is seeking new writing on the subject of the sea. During these current restrictions, we have to be more enterprising than ever in finding new platforms to showcase creativity. I look forward to the results.”

The local artist films premier, will be the week beginning December 14, Monday to Saturday.

The Lead artist flash film premiers December 20.


Sunderland Culture

Sunderland Culture is a new organisation created to bring together Sunderland’s most important cultural assets and activities and realise the ambition of a city brimming with creative potential. We operate National Glass Centre and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland Stages, Sunderland Cultural Partnership, Arts Centre Washington and The Fire Station, with a combined audience of over 700,000. In addition, we run cross-city programmes such as the recent UK City of Culture bid and our Great Place Scheme. Our mission is to improve life for everyone in Sunderland through culture.

Sunderland Culture brings together the investment of the 3 main funders of arts provision in the city, Sunderland City Council, University of Sunderland and Music, Arts & Culture Trust into a single, independent, and resilient delivery model. In 2018 we became an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

In March 2018 working with other organisations through Sunderland Cultural Partnership, we launched the Twenty Four Seven programme; an ambitious seven year £60m project running to 2024. Twenty Four Seven has been built from the excitement, drive and imagination of people from communities, sectors and organisations across the city who contributed to the 2021 UK City of Culture bid. It will deliver much of what was in our bid; using arts and culture to deliver 5 step changes in the city; improved profile and reputation of the city; more vibrant creative economy; raised outlook and aspiration of young people; improved health and wellbeing; and a more socially cohesive city.



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