Amanda Ogden + Angela Sandwith
'I am an artist, designer and maker. I have a BA in Textiles and Surface Pattern from Cleveland College of Art & Design/Teesside University and a PGCE in Textiles from Bretton Hall/Leeds University. I have been self-employed since September 2014 - my small business is called 'Amanda Jane Textiles'. I recently re-located to Ramsgate in Kent after living for many years in County Durham.'
Angela Sandwith is a visual artist based in Seaham, County Durham. She has a background in Secondary Design Education, the latter 20 years in training Secondary Design teachers at the University of Sunderland. Since leaving the University in 2017 she has focussed on her art practice. She works in a variety of media, but she is best known for textiles and site-specific installations. Her art makes a subversive comment on global issues and concerns surrounding familial nurture and protection. Using discarded, recycled and unusual materials she challenges the perspectives of the materials and traditional techniques used.
‘Seacoasts’ is an eighth-month-long collaboration between Angela Sandwith and Amanda Ogden, focusing on the coast at Seaham in County Durham, in the North-East of England. Angela lives in the town and Amanda lived inland near Durham City. It all began with a walk, following the line of the coast.
We covered the distance from the ‘Tommy’ statue (1101) and the Memorial railings then past the docks out to Nose’s Point and down onto the Blast beach and Chemical beach, before returning to the town. Angela made a map of the journey which can be seen in the video about the project in this submission. Our chosen themes for making art emerged from aspects of this stretch of coastline that we observed as we walked together. The themes included: collective memory; marking the past; the hope of future prosperity for the town evidenced by the port; words as reminders; colour, texture and layers of sediment in the cliffs on the Blast beach; human traces from the industrial past on the Chemical beach and, finally, the combination of the elements earth, water and air as the surf meets the beach.
It was a genuinely collaborative process. During each month following the walk, we worked individually on the theme for that month, exploring ideas in sketchbooks and joining materials to create an art-work. At the end of the month, we met to show each other the pieces and to discuss our ideas before continuing to the following month’s theme.
The intention was to exhibit the work in the summer of 2020 at the Shoreside Festival in Seaham, but Covid-19 prevented this.
Seaham is a seaside town on the East Durham Coast. It is 6 miles from Sunderland and 13 miles from Durham. Once a small farming community, the population grew rapidly during the 19th century and a new industrial town was developed through the building of a Harbour by the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. Coal was taken to Seaham Harbour by rail from nearby mines and shipped from the port. Through further investment in the Harbour and the sinking of the 3 mines; Seaham in 1849, Dawdon in 1907 and Vane Tempest in 1921 the population grew and so did their dependency on the coal industry. (see https://englandsnortheast.co.uk/seaham/). The closure of the 3 mines between 1988 and 1993 had an impact on the town and fractured the community.
In Memory Angela Sandwith. Machine embroidery on vintage cotton bed sheet.
In Memory Amanda Ogden.
An installation made with seaside stones, full of holes, speaking of memories being partial and being linked. Our memories are like exhibits in a museum that we attach labels to.
The 19th century also saw Seaham Ironworks, a Chemical works and a Bottleworks being built. Seaham Iron works was built at Nose’s Point, south of the Harbour. The slag from the blast furnaces ended up on the nearby beach and it was these furnaces which gave their name to Blast Beach. To the north of Nose’s point, where Seaham Harbour Dock Company warehouses now stand, there was a Chemical works (this gave its name to the nearby Chemical Beach) and a bottle works. This was the largest glass bottle works in Britain until its closure in 1921. (see https://englandsnortheast.co.uk/seaham/) Coloured glass waste was thrown into the sea and it is still washed ashore on local beaches today, which is one of the reasons why Seaham has had the transition from being an industrial town to a tourist location. Seaham seaglass is collected by locals and tourists from across the world. (see https://www.thisisdurham.com/seaham). Tourists also visit Seaham to see the sculpture 1101 or Tommy, as he is known locally. This is a rusty red patina corten steel statue of a WW1 soldier by local artist Ray Lonsdale, situated on the seafront near to the War memorial. In a nationwide poll by SkyArts it has recently been awarded the accolade of best piece of outdoor free to view artwork in the UK. It is situated near the War Memorial. Recently bronze plaques have also been put on railings near to 1101 in memory of the Seaham residents who died in active service.
above: The Port Amanda Ogden.
A hand-stitched naïve-style portrait of the port. Activity at the port is a sign of hope for Seaham's future.
right: Words (A Gift for Seaham) Amanda Ogden.
This is made entirely with fabrics and threads donated to me - a gift from the daughter of a woman with dementia who can no longer sew, due to her condition.
Waste from industry and colliery waste from the mines in Seaham was dumped on the coastline, this had a detrimental impact on the environment, indeed waste from Dawdon mine was tipped over the cliffs directly into the sea. The Blast beach was so polluted that it looked like an alien planet and was featured in the 1992 film Alien 3. The Turning the Tide Partnership (1997-2002) brought change by successfully cleaning up and regenerating this coastline. The beaches of Seaham were transformed, bringing the coastline back to life. (see http://www.turning-the-tide.org.uk). Natural marine erosion has also played its part in the transition and the coastline is now a wildlife haven and a place where the local community and tourists visit. Swimming in the North Sea at Seaham has returned! Some evidence from the industrial past can still be seen on the Blast and Chemical beaches. A shelf of colliery spoil remains on the Blast beach which protects the base of the unique magnesium limestone cliffs from erosion. Rocks on the 2 beaches are coloured red, orange, brown and yellow and there are red and yellow oxide pools at the base of the cliffs. Objects are washed out of the layers of colliery spoil and then also washed up on the beach, discarded mine debris, metal, plastics, leather boot soles, conveyor belts, twisted girders, the finds are many and varied. The Chemical beach still has evidence of a low-level railway line and the wheels of a Chaldron Wagon which can be seen at low tide. (see http://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk)
Words Angela Sandwith. Ink and machine embroidery on hydrophilic fabric
Layers Amanda Ogden. The cliffs with their colours, textures and LAYERS offered us the next theme and I embroidered a denim jacket with rocks, sand and seagulls, conscious of the precariousness of this environment.
Rust 1 Angela Sandwith. Rust dyed vintage cotton bed sheet, machine embroidery (rust objects found at the Blast Beach)
Rust Amanda Ogden. There are many interesting pieces of rusty metal on the Chemical Beach. I explored the textures of rust by cutting back velvet fabric using reverse appliqué techniques.
Rust 2 Angela Sandwith. Rust dyed vintage cotton bed sheet, machine embroidery (rust objects found at the Blast Beach)
Layers Angela Sandwith. Wax, ink on brown paper, machine embroidery