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Art & Crafts

2004 saw the 215 anniversary of the birth and 150th of the death of John Martin Haydon Bridge’s ‘most famous son’.

Haydon Parish Council with 'The Friends of Haydon Bridge' arranged a series of workshops and events with the community to celebrate and commemorate these occasions. The celebrations took place between 17th February, his death and 19th July, his birth dates. This helped to raise awareness both locally and nationally of the contribution made by John Martin of Haydon Bridge, the most popular artist of his day.

There is a continuing affinity with the legacy left by Martin within the local schools and the members of the community. This culminates in an annual event each June when the Haydon Local Artists hold their exhibition in the Ratcliffe Road Community Centre. This has been equipped with hanging facilities specially commissioned by the group which could also be used for other such events. The annual exhibition is open to all artists with a connection to the village. This allows the participants to demonstrate their skills and the visitors to have a go or just be amazed at the expertise there is within the community.

The Destruction of Haydon Bridge

The hall itself has three large format works in which the style of Martin’s sublime is echoed in ‘The Destruction of Haydon Bridge’ (The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah), a view from the east (Arthur and Aegle in  the Happy Valley) and a ‘Plains of Heaven’. The works were produced by students of Haydon Bridge High School & and Sports College under the direction of Anna Coulson, Sheila Harrison and Sarah Riseborough.   This school is noted as having one of the strongest art departments of all in the UK.

The centre also has a collection of 19 Martin prints but, because of damp problems, this has been temporarily removed. Three can  be seen at nearby Langley Castle Hotel.

1st School students also produce work annually and this allows them to gain a great kudos from having their paintings mounted and displayed for admiration in a week long public exhibition.

A second Arts and Crafts fair is organised for the end of November each year when works are again available for sale. As well as the artists working in paints, other mediums seen are photography, sculpture, floral art, cake icing, card manufacture, forge metal work, picture framing and tapestry.

For further information on these exhibitions contact BARBARA WARDLE +44 (0)1434 688886

Many of the artists also participate in the Local Artists Art Tour ‘Network Artists in Northumberland’. Here, visitors can see the artists at work personally in their galleries and workshops. These are very popular summer events and many participants repeat this near Christmas. You can see the latest programme at this website www.networkartists.org.uk

The Community Centre is also a venue for visiting theatre groups, film and musicians. Details of these events and hall hire arrangements can be obtained valerie@hexhamshirelasses.freeserve.co.uk.

Haydon Bridge has strong musical connections. It is a home for the internationally known English dance band rockers ‘Whapweasel’ www.whapweasel.com
The village is also home to the ‘Haydon Bridge Community Band’ who meet on Tuesday’s in school term time with Kevin Moore. They also have an alter ego in the ‘Sheds on Fire’ band.

Another popular village based band is ‘The Street Martins’ (after John Martin Street) who have delighted audiences for many years now with their own interpretations of mainly 60/70s numbers. They can be contacted via Ren Hunter at Haydon Bridge’s own professional recording studio www.axisaudio.co.uk

Yet another successful young band are the ‘Pikey Beatz’ who play their own Bob Marley influenced reggae and were a major hit at the 2009 ‘Solfest’.  You can hear them here www.myspace.com

Another example of village musical excellence comes from session musicians Graham Raine and Bridget Enover who also include creative artwork amongst their many talents. Find them here www.offbeat.idps.co.uk

A further popular Haydon Bridge duo is ‘The Promise’, Bob and Emma whose contemporary repertoire plays to packed houses in the area.

Classical aficionados are catered for by the excellent mixed voices of the ‘Shaftoe Chorale’. The choir was first formed under the direction of Alan Armstrong, head of music at the high school, in 1985.

This is Northumberland and there is also a great demand for our traditionally based music.

Northumbrian pipers Francis Templar and fiddler Shef Exham are residents. One of the best known performers with the likes of the ‘High Level Ranters’ and accordionist Henry Robson is Dennis Telford. Dennis has written enough Haydon Bridge based song to fill two CD’s and is always another crowd puller performing live. His family have been Haydon Bridge resident for over 350 years. You can contact Dennis via chairman@haydon-news.co.uk

Dance is catered for on Monday evenings at the Community centre with a Dance Club.

The Haydon Bridge High School & Sports College has a further excellence in Drama mainly as a result of the fervour of the late and much lamented teacher Mike Fry. Productions were of De Mille proportions and always popular from Dickens to Musicals. Mike’s tradition is still being followed by the staff and students today.

The Haydon United Football Club also manage a popular annual pantomime production which is always sold out.

Haydon Bridge’s most noted poet was Philip Larkin who had a bolthole residence at 1A Ratcliffe Road within the village with his then partner Monica Jones. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Larkin)

As well as Larkin, a local poet was inspired by John Martin. Jill Henderson was raised in the village and has written and sung her work here.

Another Martin inspired poet is Dr. Keith Armstrong. Keith has been responsible for raising Martin’s profile over several years. You can catch up with this prolific scholar here http://keithyboyarmstrong.blogspot.com/

Keith is also a founder of the ‘Thomas Spence Society’ in honour of the onetime Haydon Bridge Grammar School master. www.thomas-spence-society.co.uk

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