North of the Tyne, Under the Stars “Settle yourself comfortably because I’m about to tell you a story of a place you might know, West of the Sea, East of the Lakes, South of Scotia and North of the Tyne…”

The Story-Weaver

Over four nights in March, a new free event will bring magic to visitors of all ages in Newcastle City Centre with a series of events in neighbourhoods across Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside to whet the appetite in the weeks before.

North of the Tyne, Under the Stars is all about weaving a new fable for the region. Driven by a sense of place and the stories woven through it – imaginative, magical and locally resonant stories – the events will use large scale projection, atmospheric imagery, sound and fire to capture the character, beauty and diversity of this region and ignite the imagination of the audience. Produced by Pinwheel and DAT Events and commissioned by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, the events will welcome visitors of all ages, including young children, to engage in the experience, both in their local areas and in the Festival Finale in Newcastle City Centre, which is supported by Newcastle City Council.

Connecting the seven different events is the tale of a mysterious and magical visitor, a Story-Weaver, called down from the stars to travel the region, seeking the connections, fables, facts and characters and drawing together the threads to spin a new mythology for the North of Tyne area. She will be visiting North Shields, Wallsend, Hexham, Blyth, Byker and Fenham to engage local people in her alchemy.

Finally, in February, she will take all she has found to Newcastle City Centre and invite us to witness the magic she has woven from the tales she has been told.  From an enormous zoetrope powered by the inventiveness of our region, to a collection of ethereal, ghostly creatures and mythical beasts and an ever-changing magic carpet of intricate patterns, these enchanting works will play out across the iconic buildings and streets.

All these events are free to attend and no booking is required. Check website before attending for latest information, accessibility and Covid safety advice. Visitors can follow the story and find out more information here – or follow @NTUnderStars on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The core story has been developed by a collaborative team of artists including Newcastle based projection artists, NOVAK, and composer Roma Yagnik, as well as Director Simon Sharkey and Designer Robin Peoples. The March festival in Newcastle will have brand new commissions from companies including Illuminos, Limbic Cinema, Heinrich & Palmer and imitating the dog, all high-profile companies known for creating ambitious works for festivals in the UK and across the world.  Fire and pyrotechnic effects all the events will be delivered by LightFires.

Katy Fuller, Creative Director at Pinwheel said: “I am thrilled to finally be able to present this magical story, which is being brought to life by the most talented group of artists.  From the events across the region, to the work we are doing in schools, to the finale in Newcastle, our aim is to captivate audiences with this love letter to their region, mixing the real and the mythical and firing up the imagination.”

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Major said: “Stories give us a sense of who we are and where we belong. They bring us together and build community bonds. Storytelling has always been a fundamental part of being human. The North East has a rich heritage, and every community has its own story to tell. Through January and February, North of Tyne’s Under the Stars storytelling events will weave together the stories from places across our region. There’ll be free events in neighbourhoods from Hexham to North Shields, all leading up to a spectacular festival in Newcastle in early February. This is the first event of its kind in our region. What an opportunity to show why the North East is such a special place and showcase the fantastic talent we have here.”

Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Public Health and Culture, said: “Our city and the wider region has a rich history and a great story to tell and I’m looking forward to seeing this unfold through Under the Stars. The cultural sector has experienced a really tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic and like most industries is really having to work hard to get back on its feet. I’m sure these events, bringing together some of the best and brightest creative minds from our region and further afield, will be an excellent addition to our cultural offer early in the New Year.”

Events Listings

North of the Tyne, Under the Stars – Neighbourhood Events

  • Fri 18 – Sat 19 February, 6pm – 9pm: Ridley Park, Blyth & Northumberland Park, North Shields
  • Fri 25 – Sat 26 February, 6pm – 9pm: Richardson Dees Park, Wallsend & Ballast Hills, Byker
  • Fri 4 – Sat 5 March, 6pm – 9pm: Abbey Grounds, Hexham & Nuns Moor Park, Fenham

North of the Tyne, Under the StarsFestival

  • Thurs 10 – Sun 13 March, 6.30pm – 10pm: Newcastle City Centre

Artist biographies

Heinrich & Palmer (Artists, Nightflight)   Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer are two British artists who have worked in collaboration since the 1990s.  They have a cross disciplinary practice which encompasses installations, interventions, large scale projection events, films and photography.  They work with digital media, projection, light, optics and photography and frequently combine ephemeral media with physical materials and structures to suggest alternative or ambiguous meanings.  Many of their projects evolve through a process of research, engagement or collaboration with people from other disciplines such as architects, engineers, programmers and fabricators.

Recent commissioned works include Limelight for Lindisfarne Castle National Trust; Casting Light for Mottisfont National Trust; The Ripple Effect – a Trust New Art Commission for Lacock Abbey and Floe, a large scale projection event commissioned for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

Illuminos (Artists, The Zoetrope)   Illuminos are brothers Matt and Rob Vale, who for over 10 years have been creating visually inventive, memorable projection artworks and experiences. Their works range from very large scale illumination to small scale imagery, but always working to create something unique and specific to location and viewer. Often combining elements of installation, dance, theatre, pyrotechnics and music, each project they approach develops from an exploration of the emotions of an environment, aiming to capture the essence of a place, space or feeling as a shared moment of time.

Illuminos work internationally on high profile events, from Les Troyens for Lyric Opera, Chicago, US, to the 2017 Capital of Culture closing ceremony with Walk The Plank in Paphos, Cyprus, creating a vast chocolate factory for City of the Unexpected -the city wide centenary celebrations of Roald Dahl in Cardiff and marking the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo moon landings with projections on the Lovell Telescope at Bluedot Festival.

Imitating the Dog (Artists, Take me to the RiverImitating the Dog (ITD) has been creating and touring original performance work since 1998. Pete Brooks, Andrew Quick and Simon Wainwright are the Artistic Directors and their work has built a company with a unique reputation.  Imitating the Dog creates outstanding work that challenges and connects with audiences, tests theatrical conventions and brings high-end video design and thematic ambition to audiences. Imitating the Dog’s theatre work has toured extensively through the UK and internationally.

Imitating the Dog create projection and video-mapping work for festivals and events. Recent site-specific projects have included Light Up Lancaster Festival and the launch of Hull City of Culture. Learning is at the heart of the company’s ethos. The company initiates, tests and shares its creative process and technological expertise with students, practitioners and community groups through its extensive learning programme.

Lightfires (Fire and Pyrotechnic Design, The Story-WeaverPaul Bryce set up Lightfires in the spring of 2015 after ten years working freelance in special effects for a number of internationally acclaimed companies.  Since then, Lightfires has worked with producers, directors and choreographers creating large scale touring shows, spectacular firework displays, immersive pyro-animated performances and bespoke effects both small and large. Passion for the science behind the effects has led Lightfires to work with a diverse range of arts practitioners with backgrounds in engineering, chemistry, physics and programming. In one year alone their work was enjoyed by live audiences totalling more than one million across four different countries and they burned more than two ton of propane!

Limbic Cinema (Artists, Meadow WallLimbic Cinema is a Bristol-based multimedia creative studio, utilising cutting edge tools and immersive technology to transform spaces and transport audiences. The studio creates mesmerising, meaningful and memorable encounters that empower people through the use of light, sound and moving images.  Creative use of technology is integral to their particular approach to storytelling, allowing them to transform spaces and transport audiences in new and exciting ways.  From architectural projection mapping on urban facades, to light sculptures in public gardens, their work takes a rich variety of forms according to the individual aims of the project.

Limbic Cinema won two awards in 2019 for their projection mapping and animation on the vertical dance show Substratum, the “live-mapping award” at Video Mapping Festival, Lille, and the “creative innovation in video and projection” award at the Theatre and Technology Awards.

NOVAK (Video Artists, The Story-Weaver, and Artists HyemNOVAK is a creative studio producing innovative and ambitious art and design projects.  Specialising in video design and immersive experiences, this encompasses projection mapping, art and museum installations, stage visuals for music artists and video accompaniments for theatre, dance and events. Their art installations are often site-specific and on a grand and spectacular scale, that transform and reimagine locations into extraordinary displays of colour and motion. These works explore a wide variety of themes, often including geographically relevant historic and cultural narratives that resonate deeply with audiences.

NOVAK has presented work throughout the world and at some of the most highly regarded arts festivals, including Lumiere (London, Durham and Derry-Londonderry), Brighton Festival and the internationally renowned Singapore Night Festival. Their work has been commissioned by the likes of Bloomberg, Google, MTV and has featured alongside many celebrated musicians including Disclosure, Calvin Harris and Jean-Michel Jarre.

Robin Peoples (Set and Costume Design, The Story-Weaver) Robin Peoples was born in Derry-Londonderry.  He is a graduate of the University of St Andrews, and taught at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.  He was the holder of the first Scottish Arts Council Director’s Bursary, is the former Artistic Director of the Scottish Youth Theatre and of the Brunton Theatre Musselburgh, and is the Lecturer in Set and Costume Design at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Robin has created over three hundred and fifty productions ranging from Shaw, Shakespeare, Fugard and Lorca, to Pinter, Stoppard and Wilde, from new writing to panto, from small-scale touring and site-responsive to number one main house;  his productions and designs have appeared on stages as diverse as Mull Little Theatre, the London Palladium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Simon Sharkey (Creative Lead, The Story-WeaverSimon is a director, writer, coach, mentor, speaker and, most recently, a documentary film maker. He works on epic and intimate scales with site specific theatre and theatre for social change. Simon was one of the founding directors of The National Theatre of Scotland, where he pioneered the “Theatre Without Walls” approach across Scotland and the rest of the world. Over 15 years with NTS he created a programme of genre defying participatory and professional arts projects and festivals that reached globally and impacted locally.  Since leaving NTS in 2018, he formed “The Necessary Space” which he calls a “Theatre of Opportunity.” He is currently engaged in several projects across the world including Brazil, India, Jamaica, Trinidad, Austria, Germany, Canada and of course Scotland.

Roma Yagnik (Composer and Sound Designer, The Story-Weaver) Roma is an award-winning composer for film, television, theatre and mid to large scale events based in the UK and working internationally. Her compositional style ranges from large orchestral arrangements to intimate underscore and electronica and her diverse client list includes BBC, EMI, Universal Music, Unicef, PLAN International, Tottenham Hotspur and Tate Britain. Roma’s music regularly features on television including HBO’s Mare of EasttownWashington and Vine on Amazon prime Video and Mimeon Hulu/FX.  Roma’s event scoring work includes Great North Star (the finale of the Great Exhibition of the North) and installations/ performances at Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Enchanted Parks, Light Night Leeds, Bram Stoker Festival (Dublin) and Durham Lumiere. Roma is a BAFTA Crew Participant, and an active member of Women in Film & TV UK, Alliance for Women Film Composers, Ivors Academy, Free the Work as well as being a voting member of PRS.