Artists and ticket registration announced for BBC One’s The Great North Passion

Only the BBC could deliver such an ambitious and large-scale outdoor production. It is truly incredible to have 12 such creative and diverse artists working with communities from across the North-East, helping us remember the story of Christ’s last moments. I am excited that The Great North Passion will be shared with viewers across the UK on BBC One this Easter."Aaqil Ahmed, Head, BBC Religion and Ethics
Date: 05.03.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.11
Category: BBC One
From the seafront of South Shields in the North East of England, the BBC, in partnership with The Cultural Spring, will undertake an ambitious re-telling of the Passion story for BBC One on Good Friday 2014 (18 April).

The beginning of Lent (Wednesday 5 March) will see 12 of the shipping containers that will serve as the building blocks for BBC One’s The Great North Passion placed within communities across the North East of England.

From Northumberland to Middlesbrough, through North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland, each of these 12 giant steel boxes has been allocated to a local artist, who will work with the community in which it is housed to create a new work inspired by a station of the cross.

These containers will join over 50 others in Bent’s Park, South Shields on Good Friday to form an iconic installation in the shape of a cross. An Easter staple and traditionally community led event, the Passion story marks the last moments of Jesus' life, from his trial and suffering to his eventual death.

Head of BBC Religion and Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, says: "Only the BBC could deliver such an ambitious and large-scale outdoor production. It is truly incredible to have 12 such creative and diverse artists working with communities from across the North-East, helping us remember the story of Christ’s last moments. I am excited that The Great North Passion will be shared with viewers across the UK on BBC One this Easter."

Director of BBC North, Peter Salmon, says: "Brokering innovative partnerships between BBC channels and cultural organisations has become one of the hallmarks of BBC North, set up to champion the region. Following the success of Bollywood Carmen Live in Bradford, Frankenstein’s Wedding in Leeds and The Preston Passion, we hope The Great North Passion will prove entertaining and thought-provoking for audiences."

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England, says: “The Exceptional Awards programme provides us with a unique opportunity to recognise truly remarkable ideas of national, or even international, importance; rewarding innovation and ambition in arts and culture. I’m delighted that the Arts Council is able to support The Great North Passion. The project is set to not only inspire audiences across the North East between now and Easter through the 12 commissions but also to engage audiences nationally through the BBC One broadcast on Good Friday.”

Commissioned by BBC Religion and Ethics and produced by BBC In House Productions, supported by BBC North in partnership with The Cultural Spring, the hour-long live event will be broadcast at 12noon on BBC One on Good Friday. The Great North Passion is supported by an Arts Council ‘Exceptional Award’.

The Great North Passion is looking for singers to create a massed choir. The choir will play a pivotal role in the live event, singing choral music and hymns, as well as contemporary and spiritual songs, and performing with well-known soloists, in an open-air setting.

For tickets and details how to get involved visit: Website and registration both launched at 10am on Wednesday 5 March and close at 10am Monday 24 March.

Notes to Editors

STATION ONE: Jesus is condemned to death

KEY THEME: What is Truth?

ARTIST: Richard Broderick

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: North Tyneside/Fish Quay Community

Based in Whitley Bay, Richard Broderick has been working as an artist since 1985 across a wide range of techniques and practices and often involving community participation. For the Great North Passion, Richard will be creating a piece called What is Truth? The piece will include a large-scale fishing boat structure mounted on the top of a shipping container with a net descending to the floor. Inside the container will be a sign with Pontius Pilate’s words “What is Truth?”. This will be surrounded by a series of boards containing personal truths drawn from the community participants involved in the making of the work.

STATION TWO: Jesus carries the cross

KEY THEME: Burden you carry alone

ARTIST: Bad Taste Cru

LOCATION: Bolden Comprehensive School/ Pupils and local community

Bad taste Cru are a company of breakdancers known for pushing the boundaries of Hip Hop Theatre with their dance productions for indoor and outdoor spaces. Many of the company also work in other disciplines including music, graffiti and film-making. For the Great North Passion, Bad Taste Cru will create a dance theatre piece based upon the second Station of the Cross. They will be working with Ken Masters (Rapper/DJ/ Music Producer) who will be creating a unique score/soundtrack for the performance As part of the legacy of the project they will make a short film accompanied by a sound track which can be shown in the container over the public open days.

STATION THREE: Jesus falls for the first time

KEY THEME: Exhaustion and Being Alone

ARTIST: Mohammed Ali / Aerosol Ali & GEM Arts

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: St Cuthbert’s Church, Redhill/congregation and local community

Mohammed Ali’s art is a fusion of street-art/graffiti along with conscious messages that speak to people of different faith traditions. For the Great North Passion, Mohammed will be creating a large-scale mural on all available surfaces of the shipping container. The piece will be inspired by a range of sources including early Christian art and the themes of struggle, exhaustion and being alone.

STATION FOUR: Jesus meets his mother


ARTIST: North East Photographer Network, Julian Germain

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: Sunderland Minster

NEPN was established in 2009 to promote and develop photography in the North East of England and beyond. Working with photographers, artists, curators and a wide range of cultural partners, the aim is to create a lively and informed context for photographic activity and to encourage new audiences for photography. The Great North Passion project will explore the theme of loss, encouraging members of the community to put forward photographs from family albums they associate with this theme and creating a photographic installation inspired by these objects and the stories behind them.

STATION FIVE: Simon Of Cyrene Carries Cross

KEY THEME: Taking On Burdens Reluctantly

ARTIST: Ross Millard & Jaff Craig / The Futureheads

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: St Bedes Community Association, Town End Farm

Ross Millard and Jaff Craig form half of the band The Futureheads, originally from Sunderland. For the Great North Passion, they are planning a multi-arts approach. They will be composing a piece of music that will be informed and influenced by the community members they are working with.

STATION SIX: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

KEY THEME: Kindness

ARTIST: Kate Fox

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: South Tyneside, South Shields Community School

Kate Fox is a Northern stand up poet, writer and BBC Radio 4 regular. She has been Poet in Residence for the Great North Run and the Glastonbury Festival and is also an experienced speaker, live literature producer and creative writing and performance facilitator. Kate will be working with a wide range of groups and participants to create a new poem for the Great North Passion.

STATION SEVEN: Jesus falls

KEY THEME: Falling


LOCATION/COMMUNITY: Sunderland, St Andrew’s Church

Graeme Danby, originally from County Durham, is an opera singer who has performed at some of the world’s leading opera houses. Will Todd, also from Country Durham, is a composer and musician whose work encompasses a wide range of musical styles and genres - from jazz to contemporary liturgical music. Graeme and Will are working with the community to gather stories to inspire a new piece of music, composed by Will around the theme of “Falling”.

STATION EIGHT: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

KEY THEMES: Compassion to strangers

ARTISTS: Adrian Moule and Maurice Dezou

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: Middlesbrough, Tees Valley Arts

Tees Valley Arts is an arts development agency based in Middlesbrough,

For the Great North Passion they will be creating two pieces of work, which will interlink. Musician and specialist refugee arts worker, Maurice Dezou will work with a group of women of African origin to create a new hymn. Visual artist Adrian Moule will continue his work with an existing group of people who identify themselves as having mental health problems. Together they will create a backdrop for the container using fabric, paint and collage, for the hymn.

STATION NINE: Jesus falls for the third time

KEY THEME: Hope and faith

ARTIST: Garry Hunter

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: South Tyneside, Chuter Ede Community Association

Photographer Garry Hunter will be returning to his childhood neighbourhood of Biddick Hall in South Shields to continue his work with the community there. The container will act as photographic studio and then gallery space. Local residents will be encouraged to bring objects associated with the themes of hope and faith which will photographed and presented alongside quotations drawn from the works of the famous authors after whom the local streets have been named.

STATION 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments

KEY THEME: Loss and resilience

ARTIST: Patrick Murphy

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: Northumberland, Ashington family centre

Patrick Murphy is an interdisciplinary artist using a diverse range of media, techniques and skills to take familiar objects, alter their original context and open up a questioning response in the viewer. Patrick is involved in a longer- term engagement with the communities involved in this specific project as part of Creative People and Places South East Northumberland. For this project, a many-layered installation will be created on the interior of the shipping container that reflects the exhaustion, despair but ultimately the resilience of this particular community. A long table will tour the area and will become a focus for activity. It will be inscribed with historic and contemporary thoughts from the community.

STATION 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross

KEY THEME: Forgiveness

ARTIST: Sandy Duff

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: Sage Gateshead/ Local school & church community

Sandy Duff is a member of the Learning and Engagement team at Sage Gateshead with a wealth of experience in working with young people, particularly young men falling into the NEET category. This project will work with this group but also a church community and a local school. The participants will work with a graffiti artist to design and create their own piece of art on the exterior of the container. The process will be documented and displayed on the interior.

STATION 12: Jesus dies on the cross

KEY THEME: Self-sacrifice and Love

ARTIST: Joseph Hillier

LOCATION/COMMUNITY: South Tyneside, Souter Lighthouse

Joseph Hillier is a sculptor based in the North East. He makes figurative sculpture often from steel and is currently exploring a new technique for capturing movement and time within sculpture. For the Great North Passion Joseph will work with a group of participants to explore the way that the stations of the cross have been represented in art history. He will then use motion capture technology to take images of the participants re-enacting some of the imagery they have seen. These images will be used to create the design for a figurative steel sculpture, which will be placed inside the shipping container.