Members of the Hindu communities in Middlesbrough and Durham have worked with museum curators to create a new exhibition about their faith.

The exhibition, ‘Embracing the Divine: exploring Hindu Faith, Devotion, and Celebration’, at the Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough until Friday, July 4 2014.

The exhibition is designed to give an introduction to Hinduism as both a religion and a way of life.

The experiences and opinions of local Hindus are reflected throughout the exhibition which explores themes such as stories, celebration, family, community and personal worship.

The exhibition contains objects loaned from Durham University’s Oriental Museum including historic artefacts, personal shrines from India, and photographs of Hindu worship taken by the internationally renowned anthropologist, Stephen P. Huyler.

These are displayed alongside images of local Hindus’ own household shrines and a film showing Holi Festival celebrations at the Middlesbrough Hindu Cultural Society and Temple.

A Banyan tree installation created by the local artist, Bub Bacon, is a prominent feature in the gallery – this tree represents the act of worshipping deities that reside in trees and other sacred natural features, which is a common practice in India.

Lauren Barnes, Oriental Museum exhibition coordinator said: “Embracing the Divine is a wonderful chance for people of all faiths or no faith to come and find out about Hinduism and experience the variety of this vibrant and ancient religion.

“I hope many will have fun at the exhibition while it is here in Middlesbrough and enjoy interacting with the tree and the shrines – which are a true ‘must see’.”

The poster for the exhibition has been designed by OrmesbySchool student, Jordan Clarke, who won a Middlesbrough-wide competition to create the design.

Jordan will receive a gift voucher for £60 and the Middlesbrough school will receive £100 in book tokens.

Second place was awarded to Siobhan Haycock of St. Edward’s Primary School and in third place was Lia McGlade of OrmesbySchool. The winners’ work will be on display at the Dorman Museum for the duration of the exhibition.

Senior Curator of the Dorman Museum, Phil Philo, said: “The Oriental Museum, Durham, has given us a unique opportunity to broaden awareness of an important section in our multi-cultural society and I am sure that our visitors will enjoy the colour and vibrancy of this fascinating way of life.”

Embracing the Divine: Exploring Hindu Faith, Worship, and Celebration is being supported by the Arts Council for England.

I spoke to Lauren Barnes, Oriental Museum exhibition coordinator about the exhibition that is showing now at the Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough.

Q: Tell me about the background of this exhibition, please.

Lauren Barnes: It was a collaboration between the OrientalMuseum, Durham where I work and Middlesbrough Dorman museum. They worked together on Stories of the World and we continued those links. The OrientalMuseum has a lot of historic collections of Hindu objects which are on display here and we’ve also recently in the past few years been given the shrines which are on display as well, they were donated to the OrientalMuseum. When we got the shrines we had to display them, basically they are too beautiful just put them away in the store and never see them again. Also they are very large. When we have these things together and the connections with Middlesbrough, through talks with DormanMuseum, we realised we could have a community project involving the local Hindu community and we could get their opinions about our objects and put them together to introduce Hinduism. I think it is a very worthwhile subject. A lot of people know a little about Hinduism, maybe about ganesh or…

Q: Karma?

L: Or karma or yoga. People know a little about Hinduism but it is very difficult to find out more in a sense. When I have been learning I have found there is only so much you can read, basically you have to experience it. Going to a temple it is all about experiencing the sounds, and the colours and the lights and the senses, it’s kind of like everything. That is the idea of trying to have this in the gallery so that people can experience it.

Q: We can hear the sounds and the colours are so vibrant and I guess you would have the aromas as well.

L: Yes, I’m still thinking of ways to get aromas in the gallery.

Q: The aromas will be quite a big part of it.

L: Yes, especially after ceremonies in Hindu Temples they can use different spices and scents and so it really hits all your senses.

I am trying to capture all that in the gallery so it gives people a great experience and an understanding of Hinduism and what it’s all about.

Q: You worked with the children designing the posters.

L: That was something I was really keen to do. I was quite artistic as a child and it was great whenever an opportunity like that came along because it is great to be part of something. If you win it is fantastic but it also gives you chance to learn about cultures. The posters that we have got on display, you can tell that every single child has learned a lot about Hinduism and has really grasped it as well.  So it is really good to have that involvement and connection to local schools as well.

Q: You used two of the prize winning designs as a poster and an invite for the launch night which must be a real thrill for those children.

L: Yes I hope so and something they can keep for ever.

Lauren Barnes from Oriental Museum, Durham – Project Coordinator and Exhibition Curator.

The exhibition, ‘Embracing the Divine: exploring Hindu Faith, Devotion, and Celebration’, at the Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough until Friday, July 4 2014.

The Dorman Museum is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday.  Entry to the museum and the temporary exhibition is free for all ages.

Photos – Tracy Hyman


Part of Middlesbrough Local History Month








Boro’s Forgotten no.1 Jason Steele

I chatted with Boro keeper Jason Steele recently on the VIP fan tours behind the scenes at the Riverside. Red carded at Leeds and then injured Boro’s no.1 has lost his place to first Shay Given and now Dimi Konstantopoulos. I asked him how he is coping with such a disappointing season.

Q: First of all how are you fitness wise?

JS: Yes good. I don’t know how long ago I had my operation now but I have been back training for a while and I feel good and strong.

Q: The season totally changed for you after Leeds.

JS: Yes

Q: Did you pick up the injury straight after the game?

JS: No I picked up the injury against Charlton at the start of the season when I had to come off. And then I had a couple of injections and played through it. Obviously I got sent off against Leeds and then the week after that I felt it again. And decided to find out what was wrong with it. It was pretty nasty so the only option was to get a reconstruction of the ligament by a major operation.

Q: So basically you had no choice. You had to get it done.

JS: Yes. After Charlton we said we’ll wait to the end of the season if possible. But I felt it again and there was no other option but to do it.

Q: Going back to Leeds, there are always red cards there. You were last man and were trying to cover for a mistake in front of you.

JS: Yes. Daniel just tried to head it back to me and got it a bit heavy and in a split second you just make a decision.  I decide to try and come out and obviously I cleaned the lad out instead of getting the ball. I thought he maybe didn’t have to send me off as he was never going to score from where he was. But he decided to send me off and the season pretty much finished from there.

Q: You’ve been sent off, you get an operation and everything has changed we have just got a new manager and goalkeeper coach.

JS: Yes yes well obviously it was my first game under the new manager so it is not ideal to get sent off and then coming back and needing an ankle operation straight away so he probably hadn’t seen much of me and then obviously you get back fit and you don’t play. But it is the first time I have been in this situation. You just have to keep your head down and work hard.

Q: Obviously Shay Given played pretty well, didn’t he?

JS: Yes.

Q: He brought a lot of experience to the squad didn’t he?

JS: Yes well he was always going to wasn’t he? As does Dimi. I get tarnished with the brush of being inexperienced but I think I am pretty experienced as well for my age.

Q: England Under 21s, Olympic squad..

JS: Yes. I’ve played a lot of football for someone of 23. So obviously he did pretty well for the team and I was pleased for the team.

Q: Were you able to train at all with Shay?

JS: No. I was injured.

Q: When Shay left there was a decision to be made as to who would be no.1. Was that a pressure situation with you all training together to get handed the gloves?

JS:  Not really because I was still coming back from injury. I hadn’t played a game and was just trying to get fit and get sharp. You feel like you are getting there but it still takes a little while. I feel like I’m ready now.

Q: You have been on the bench haven’t you?

JS: Yes I have been on the bench for a few games now.

Q: And you have played for our Under 21s as well.

JS: Yes I have played a game for the Under 21s. I could have played the other day but I think having been in the position of being a young goalkeeper at the club it is more beneficial for the younger lads to play in the Under 21s than me really. I think I needed a game and I got the game. Having spoken to Jamie Clapham it was more beneficial for Joe Fryer to get a game rather than me wasting their game time. Their development is probably more important than me coming back and playing.

Q: There are a lot of keepers at the club at the moment.

JS: Yes.

Q: Is it good all training together? Are there four of you training?

JS: Yes there are the four of us Dimi, Tomas, Jayson and me. Obviously Connor is out on loan. There is Luke Coddington and Joe Fryer. So there is a healthy contingency.

Q: When you were training before were there ever so many of you in a group?

JS: No there was only really me, Dimi and Jayson. Obviously the manager brought Tomas in. Four now, it is very good.

Q: You have been watching from the sidelines but Dimi played well at Burnley didn’t he?

JS: Oh he had a very good game. Credit to him he has come in this team in the past few weeks and has done ever so well and is rightly the no.1.

Q: A couple of weeks ago we had that bottle top incident. That must be a goalkeeper’s worst nightmare.

JS: Yes it is terrible. I felt sick for him because it can happen to anyone not just at our level it happens at any level. It happens on a Sunday morning when I am with my friends. It is just one of them things and he dealt with it really well. The game after he did well.

Q: It was good that bottle top was actually seen on camera afterwards. There must have been incidents before where you knew you were blameless but it looks like your error.

JS: Yes I think so. Little deflections you don’t see but then you get the replays and you realise it was a deflection and there was not much you could do. It was a similar situation with Dimi the other week.

Q: You have now had a long spell out of the team is it just all about training as well as you can now?

JS: Yes well just keep training well. I’m obviously doing that because I am back in the squad. Tomas is training as well so I am obviously doing all right. You need to get the chance. The summer is nearly here now and the season nearly finished so just keep training hard.

Q: We have put a good run together in recent games. The confidence of the squad must have gone up.

JS: Yes without a shadow of a doubt. I think we’ve always been confident and very good ethic about the way we play. We work hard. But winning games breeds’ confidence and you can tell with all the lads in the games we’ve been wining that you probably don’t expect us to win before but the lads are buzzing at the minute and you never know what is going to happen, do you?

Q: Has it made a difference scoring goals as well because we have been doing so well defensively.

JS: Yes. As soon as the manager came in the first thing he did was sort the team out defensively. And now it doesn’t matter who we play in the team we are very defensively well organised. We look hard to beat.

Q: And now we have to keep it up over Easter.

JS: Exactly if we you the next four games you never know what will happen. Teams aren’t going to win every game left so you never know if you can take 12 points you put yourself in the frame.

Q: If you finish strongly it can help next season.

JS: You can take a bit of momentum into the next season hopefully as well. Obviously the manager will bring players in and players will leave. But as long as the club still has the feel good factor at the end of the season then we can only start well.


Wildlife Lovers Walk to RSPB Saltholme To Save The Turtle Dove

After 13 days, walking over 300 gruelling miles, two intrepid explorers finally crossed the finish line at RSPB Saltholme, near Stockton, on 10 April in a quest to save the turtledove.
Jonny Rankin and Robert Yaxley set off from Lakenheath Fen, on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk, on 29 March – along with their friend, Andrew Goodrick, who joined them for 100 miles – to raise money for ‘Operation Turtle Dove’, a project launched by conservation charities to save the European turtle dove from extinction.

Jonny Rankin and Robert Laxley reach the finish line.

The walk raised over £2,000 for the project, which is headed up by the RSPB, with Conservation Grade, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Natural England.
Jonny Rankin said: “We’ve been involved in Operation Turtle Dove since its inception in 2012 and each year we look for bigger and better ways of raising the profile and raising funds for this iconic species.
“This walk has given us a chance to start planning next year’s expedition. However, right now I’m terrified of taking my boots off because I feel like they’re holding my feet together!”
At the moment the trio are keeping their plans under wraps, but they’re promising something bigger and better next time.
Lydia Tague, RSPB Saltholme’s Marketing Officer, said: “These guys truly are an inspiration. Their passion is infectious, and we’re all excited to see what they do next.”

I chatted with the two intrepid walkers as they prepared to tuck into their meals after crossing the finishing line at RSPB Saltholme.

Q: Just tell me what it felt like when you saw the sign to RSPB Saltholme?

Jonny Rankin: Very, very good. It was the sign we had been thinking abuot since we left Lakenheath Fen RSPB and went to Frampton Marsh RSPB on the third night and once those two reserves were done we were focussed on Saltholme.

Q: A long way.

JR: Yes we reckon we got to the 300 mile mark, if not just a little over. Delighted to be here.

Q: Most people who walk long distance go along recognised paths but you were picking out quite an unusual route.

Robert Laxley: Yes although probably almost 70% of our journey was along footpaths of one kind or another. There was quite a bit of road today but generally speaking around the Lincolnshire coast and the Yorkshire coast we kept on footpaths. So it was really nice.

JR: There were good wildlife areas. Around The Wash, so we got to walk Donna Nook and the MOD range as well and we saw a lot of birds as well, short easred owls and hen harriers. All the good stuff.

Q: Can you tell me why you wanted to do this Dove Step, walk?

RL: Yes, we basically wanted to use what was available to us, which was principally ourselves and a couple of weeks off to do something dramatic and hopefully raising funds for Operation Turtle Dove and for the RSPB. We devised this walk.

Q: This has raised a lot of awareness as well. I must admit I had no idea about this dramatic decline of the turtle dove. One of our most famous, and sung about birds.

RL: Yes. They have declined 93% in this country since 1970 and about 63% decline in Europe over the same period. So within a couple of generations. Projecting forward we could be in for an extinction of this species within 10 years in UK. It was those sort of figures that prompted us to do something that we thought that was quite dramatic.

Q: Yes and you are certainly putting it into everyone’s minds now.

JR: Yes we have had the blog going everyday we have been walking so that’s been good. There was a bit of a preamble posting before we set off and we’ll have some now that we have finished. And we are just coming into a time where the turtle doves will be returning at the end of the month. So a nicely timed push and then they will be in people’s consciousness.

Q: And hopefully make some steps forward with the money you have raised in finding out what is happening to the turtle doves.

RL: I think that would be great if some of the money we have raised could go into researching perhaps where our turtle doves go exactly in the winter time. I know some French researchers have been doing work tagging birds with satellite tags. It would be very interesting if they could do the same for the turtle doves that come to this country.

JR: Does our population share a migratory route or do we have a distinct migratory route that we can help on that route? Do they avoid the guns over, say, Malta, but then get hit hard over the African countries where they shoot.

There’s loads you can find out but obviously it requires awareness and funds, so that’s why we had a crack at this.

Q: You are going to now tuck into some well earned food and a beer.

JR: Yes. We are sponsored by Bridgedale Socks, Wild Frontier Ecology, a premier ecologocial company in Norfolk, Black Bar Brewery in Cambridge who kindly brewed this Dove Step beer.

Rob is originally from and still lives in Norfolk and Jonny is originally from Durham, and Andrew Goodrick who walked four days is also from the Durham, two north east lads and one from Norfolk.

Lydia Tague, RSPB Saltholme’s Marketing Officer, commented: ”The guys have done an absolutely amazing thing walking 300 miles in 13 days to raise awareness of Operation Dove Step, which is a project led by the RSPB in partnership with other organisations. Basically turtle doves have declined by 96% and we don’t really know why. So operation turtle dove will do research into why that has happened and hopefully will reverse that trend. These guys are obviously really passionate about turtle doves and wildlife and have done an amazing thing in walking these 300 miles.”
To find out more about their journey, take a look at their blog dovestep.wordpress.com and for more information about Operation Turtle Dove visit operationturtledove.org
To keep up to date with events and activities at RSPB Saltholme, call 01642 546625 or e-mail saltholme@rspb.org.uk

Photos Tracy Hyman


Get In Shape for Middlesbrough 5K

Join a community running group and get in shape for 2014 Middlesbrough 5k Riverside Run on Sunday, June 1.

The sessions are free of charge and are open to all runners of all abilities, even those who have never run before.

I chatted with Pete Samson a member of Swift-Tees and also one of the coordinators for Middlesbrough Community Learning Service and he told me of his involvement and how running is helping people.

Pete Samson: We are responsible for some of the government funded money which is put back into the community and we are working with Swift-Tees for a ‘get into running’ course which is for complete beginners.

The first course is for complete beginners and the idea is that through the club we help them train towards perhaps a parkrun and with a time limit, although it depends really as everyone’s different of course.

Some people have never run before and I like the idea of walk to run. So it is just a case of basic exercising and then maybe a little bit of a jog. So the coaches from Swift-Tees have written a programme to get people moving a bit with the ultimate aim of doing a parkrun or other 5k.

So, because I am a member of Swift-Tees I can see the benefits obviously for my self. For example my own daughter comes now and she brings a friend and her friend’s brother is coming on Wednesday night and it spirals like that. It is a very good family orientated club and a really nice way of exercising I think.

Q: You get a cup of tea afterwards.

PS: Absolutely, in fact my daughter is baking cakes this afternoon for the training on Wednesday. Even things like that, it is all relevant really isn’t it?

Q: And we are talking about some people that might not have previously have even dreamed of running for instance.

PS: Absolutely. If you took a cross section of the people involved in this it is all walks of life, all ages, all sizes. It doesn’t matter. And I think the ways that the coaches organise the training is very important because there isn’t a winner or loser and everybody is equal and I think that makes everybody feel good. It is a bit like when you are a kid at school. You’ll go in goal won’t you? Because you are rubbish (laughs)

Q: Last pick.

PS: So I like the ethos and I like the way that they deal with it that way. Everyone is the same and everyone feels brilliant at the end. The best cup of tea of the week, believe me, is after the training.

Q: And Middlesbrough 5K is a nice goal to target, isn’t it?

PS: Absolutely. I did my first Middlesbrough 5K last year and of course when you finish in the stadium it is a wonderful feeling. I am a Middlesbrough boy, to run through that tunnel with the music. You think this is fantastic. And I think that is part of it because when you are training, I don’t train very well on my own I don’t think and everybody encourages everybody else and I think again that is very much part of the ethos of the club.

Community Running Groups meet –

  • Tuesdays, 9.30am: meet at the Habinteg Community Centre, Cresswell Close, Hemlington
  • Wednesdays, 6.15pm: meet at the Habinteg Community Centre, Cresswell Close, Hemlington
  • Thursdays, 6pm meet at the CaptainCookBirthplaceMuseum, Stewart Park

Anyone can come along. All abilities welcome.

For those bitten by the running bug, the sessions will help pave the way to a training programme for the popular Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k Road Race which returns for its tenth edition on Sunday, August 31.

The two races have proved a magnet for local runners, and continue to grow in popularity with many not just aiming for a personal best time but also raising money for great local and national causes.

Councillor Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “The Riverside Run (5k) and Tees Pride 10k are now recognised as among the best runs in the region, and attract thousands of runners to Middlesbrough from far and wide – and we want as many people as possible to feel able to take part.

“The Community Running Groups are open to all, and offer support, advice and training partners to help people prepare for the Runmiddlesbrough events.

“It’s a great opportunity to train alongside qualified coaches at any of the three following weekly sessions, and is just the incentive people need to get started and stick to a training schedule.”

For further information about the sessions or to register, contact Scott Hydon on 01642 515625 or email scott_hydon@middlesbrough.gov.uk

For further information, training plans and to sign up for the Runmiddlesbrough 5k and 10k 2014 races, visit www.runmiddlesbrough.com



The Green One and the Blue One

This week is the last chance to view an eye catching art exhibition capturing the area’s two great man made landmarks. Cleveland Art Society has excelled itself in the quality and differing approaches to celebrating our two iconic bridges the Tees Newport and Tees Transporter.

Whilst the Tranny had a centenary celebration a couple of years ago the NewportBridge, or the green one, has now reached 80 years of age. This mighty vertical lift bridge once used to dominate the front of the local telephone directory. Some of the paintings and drawings of the green one on display are every bit as arresting as those depicting the Transporter.

The artwork brings together an array of impressive paintings, drawings and prints produced by members of the Cleveland Art Society in partnership with the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund

Cleveland Art Society Exhibition Secretary Alan Morley leads us into this exhibition with a few playful images of the Tranny, one through an impressionistic styling, perhaps borrowed from Monet. He also gives us our local Mona Lisa taking a drag on a fag beneath the Newport green one.

I love some of the close up abstracts of the engineering of both bridges and the composition on tile by artist Dennis Roddam is stunning. Dennis is normally known as a wildlife artist but you can buy some superb coasters of his Transporter Bridge designs. In fact another great feature of this exhibition is that you can walk away with a little art in the shape of a card, coaster or poster and it won’t set you back too much. If you fancy raiding the bank as opposed to the piggy bank there are many fine pieces of original artwork still available to buy.

The opening launch night was absolutely rammed full. I have never seen a buffet downed so quickly. But there are so many mouth watering pieces of art celebrating our two great bridges. Barbara Renton Wood’s colours are striking. There are some awe inspiring charcoal and pencil drawings too, that the original draughtsmen from the bridge design teams would have been proud of.

It is very apt that the Cleveland Art Society has pulled this exhibition together as this society has been Middlesbrough’s principal drawing and painting group since the late Victorian period. So you could say they have been as central to the story of the town and its relationship to art as the twin inspirations of this exhibition the Green one and the Blue one, the NewportBridge and The Tranny.

Alan Murray’s Bridge Master Talk ‘The Tees Transporter Bridge Through Time’ at The Heritage Gallery on Thursday 10 April, for a 12.30pm start will be a good way to almost round off the exhibition which finally closes its doors this Friday.

The Heritage Gallery is situated at Cargo Fleet, the old British Steel and Dorman Long head quarters, a lovely and historic building itself. There is a café in the gallery so you can enjoy a sandwich and a cup of tea whilst also digesting the artwork all around you.

The opening times are 9-5pm Mon to Friday. So get yourself down this week or you will miss out on a last chance to view the exhibition everyone seems to be talking about. A celebration of our Green One and Blue One, the two great bridges of Teesside.

All photos by Tracy Hyman