Local artists and a videographer visited our Drop-in to find out what refugees and asylum seekers in Tyne and Wear know about Hadrian’s Wall.

It was all part of a Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival project to look at what Hadrian’s Wall means to local people. The aim is to better understand what people in Newcastle know about the wall – if they connect with it and how to best engage local residents in the festival, which is going on throughout this year.

Alison Flanagan Wood, Arts Development Officer at Newcastle City Council,  on behalf of Hadrian’s Wall 1900, arranged the Arts Council-funded workshops for four diverse community groups in the city and Action Foundation was one of those, alongside West End Food Bank at St James Church, Stand4 Youth Group at The Carnegie Building and Curious Arts Youth Group at Dance City.

Printer, Nick Christie from Northern Print, came along to teach people lino print whilst artist Rachel Hamer showed people how to make bath bombs for themelves or to give away to friends.

Alison said: “Both workshops ran side by side in the large space of the Turbine Hall at CastleGate and next to them we had a table with lots of information/pictures of Hadrian’s Wall for stimulus.

People were curious and it became really obvious that they enjoyed both creative activities; the lino print gave people time to really focus on the artwork and some wonderful images were created.

“The bath bombs were fun and something that people could take away and enjoy for themselves or give as a gift. It became clear that one or two people really found their feet, they started to not only help translate instructions and guidance to others, but confidently led the session.

“There was lots of chats about people’s history, where they came from and it led on to people talking about what they enjoy and what they would like to do more of.”

In this lovely video below, filmed by Ronnie Johnstone, you can see just how much our beneficiaries and volunteers enjoyed the workshops. Some of them, quite understandably,  had never heard of Hadrian – or his wall – and certainly had never visited it. On being shown a picture, one client tells Ronnie: “It’s like China Wall!”

Alison said people’s feedback would be really useful. “All findings via engagement was fed back to the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, so they could fully understand its communities and how it can engage with them better. It will also help the Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival in planning of the events and activities that will be taking place as part of the Festival throughout 2022.”