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Ballymena comes to Life with the Northword Project

3 March 2022

Shoppers had the opportunity to get creative at the Tower Centre, Ballymena last weekend! Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s new pop-up shop** hosted three creative workshops as part of the Northword Storytagging project.

The EU funded Northword project combines traditional storytelling with modern technologies to help increase the visibility and market reach of creative practitioners working in remote areas. The project is led by Robert Gordon University, Orkney with partners in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Finland & Russia. Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust and Ulster University are leading the project in Northern Ireland.

As part of the project creative practitioners have been recruited to develop new products or works inspired by local stories to bring them to life: Textile artist Angela Turkington (Leopard & Lily), music artists Claire McCartney & Beccy Henderson (VOKXEN), Woodturner Gerard Gray (Taisie Turning), artist Michelle McGarvey, ceramicist Sasha McVey, and storyteller and singer-songwriter Colin Urwin.

Angela Turkington of Leopard & Lily in Whitehead kicked off the weekend on Friday 25th February with a “Natural Dyeing workshop”. During the workshop participants were told the mystical tale of “The Selkie” by storyteller Kate Murphy and how Angela brought this story to life by creating an eye- catching Selkie Cloak. Participants had the opportunity to try out various natural dyes to create their own silk scarf to take home.

On Saturday 26th February, shoppers were treated to a morning of story and song with Colin Urwin, and friends. Colin explained how he brought his own story of “The Spanish Armada Tree” to life through an evocative song about a young Spanish Sailor lost from the Girona.

Ceramicist Sasha McVey hosted the final workshop on Sunday 27th February involving both young and old. Families had a fun filled afternoon making and decorating their own trio of ceramic dishes to take home, using foraged plants and leaves. Participants heard how Sasha used ceramics to bring Alison McFaul’s story of “The Lighthouse Kitchen Cupboards” to life through her work as part of Northword.

Graham Seymour, Chair of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT); “We are thankful for the opportunity to host this Northword showcase event through funding from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Department for Communities under the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalise Programme. This showcase event is an example of how vital it is for CCGHT to work in partnership with other stakeholders, the local community, and local businesses to bring local talent to the forefront and support small rural businesses. This will enhance the offering for those that live, work, and visit our outstanding landscapes”.


L-R: Nikki Maguire CCGHT, MEABC Mayor Cllr William McCaughey, Storyteller Kate Murphy, Northword Creative Angela Turkington, Tiérna Mullan CCGHT and CCGHT Chairman Graham Seymour.

CCGHT Chairman and Northword Creative Angela Turkington

MEABC Mayor Cllr William McCaughey
*For more information on the Northword project in Northern Ireland visit www.northwordni.org. Northword Storytagging is funded though the Northern Peripheries and Arctic Area Programme under the European Regional Development Fund.
**The pop-up shop project has been funded by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and the Department for Communities under the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalise Programme. Any group interested in occupying the pop-up shop should contact Linda.Stevenson@midandeastantrim.gov.uk

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