Innovative Artist Dianne Needs Your Support to Exhibit in Middlesbrough and London

Middlesbrough artist Dianne Bowell is looking to raise £4,400 by Friday, Oct 7th 2016 in order to create and exhibit a series of innovative new paintings which will explore her life story, femininity, hopes, fears and fantasies.

“Sirens of My Relief” is a crowdfunding project to create a new, experimental body of work to exhibit at both The Python Gallery in Middlesbrough and then The Brick Lane Gallery in London. The exhibition will open in January 2017 in Middlesbrough giving the artist 3 months to create the work for this, selected pieces will then be transported and shown in London.

dianne sirens 1I know Dianne’s work well because as well as attending some of her previous shows in Middlesbruogh we share office space in Brentnall Business Centre now the hub for Gilkes Street Artists. I feel so privileged to be constantly passing by the distinctive and quite outstanding figurative paintings of Dianne in my corridor. It adds no end of interest to my work day. I am lucky to have such a talented neighbour and would urge everyone to support the painter in her double quest.

Dianne’s contemporary figurative and portrait paintings are both exhibited and sold on-line. They explore beauty, femininity, love, passion and the sense of self. They are extremely personal, windows onto an inner world and yet are instantly accessible. Dianne draws inspiration from memories, life experiences and dreams.

dianne siren 2 “I have a distinctive style, my work has been said to be instantly recognisable, even when exploring new techniques and materials. I tend to use an idiosyncratic colour pallet of blues, turquoises and violet hues, mixed with monochrome styles. I aim to create exciting unconventional pieces which are authentic and resonate with the viewer.” – Dianne

Dianne has set up a Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign to help her achieve these goals, the money will help towards materials to create the paintings, including canvas and paints, framing, preview events for the exhibitions and publicity materials.

dianne siren 3Funding will also be welcome to pay for the exhibition in London and the transportation of the paintings. Dianne says, “Being invited to exhibit in a London Gallery is a hugely exciting achievement for me, and this could open up so many doors and really give me the break I need to get my work seen by other galleries and collectors. Unfortunately if the Kickstater project isn’t successful I wouldn’t be able to achieve this at this time.”

Kickstarter, whose mission is to bring creative projects to life, allows the general public to support projects like this by pledging amounts from £1 upwards with the benefit of receiving tiered rewards, such as digital downloads, cards, prints, original paintings and even commissioned paintings.

dianne siren 4Interested parties are invited to visit Dianne’s Website  to find out more and for links to the Kickstarter Project.

Kickstarter Site:

Click Kickstarter



The Last Pip of Summer

orange pip aug lukeBank Holiday weekend and everyone was out and about at the Orange Pip Market for one last summer fling in central Middlesbrough. The music from acts playing in the street stage to the sizzles of artisan burgers and the splosh of hand pumped ales were the sounds of the Orange Pip summer. A new heartbeat for Middlesbrough.

In four months the artisan street market has become really well established. The last Saturday of the month is no longer the time to head for the moors or the coast, instead all roads lead into Baker Street and for the first time in August, Bedford Street as well. This is the new focal point for happening, vibrant, down town Middlesbrough.

orange pip aug 1The sun was shining once again and this time the market had spread its tentacles of food stalls, tables and chairs into neighbouring Bedford Street.  A real badge of honour and a measure of unqualified success for the artisan market to have already outgrown its terrace street setting and overflowed into the second adjacent street of the independent quarter of Middlesbrough. It certainly meant for more breathing space but there was no diminishing of the atmosphere.

orange pip aug tallOrange Pip brings a lively, energy and optimism to Middlesbrough. In fact it brings the people back into their town centre. The two streets, Baker and Bedford with their micro pubs, independent clothing shops, restaurants, cafés are a real go to hub.

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed on BBC Stoke ahead of Boro’s first home match of the new Premier era. After answering questions about football and the reaction of the town to our top flight return I might easily have been thrown by the final query pitched my way. Where would you recommend the Stoke fans going to before the game? Away fans did not often travel to Boro in big numbers in the Championship but there were nearly 3000 tickets snapped up by Stoke followers. I didn’t hesitate in recommending Baker and Bedford Street as somewhere the visitors could grab a bite size chunk of Teesside atmosphere and refreshment. Spending money at independently run businesses is a nice boost for the local economy.

orange pip aug tall 2A couple of streets that speak of urban renewal from the grass roots up. Somewhere you will get a nice pint and pie and a good conversation.

With bigger away crowds all season and also a higher percentage of home fans than ever before residing outside the area football tourism can be more significant this season. We now have the town centre hotel space to cope and a range of restaurants and bars to cater for different needs. Baker and Bedford Streets can feed off football tourism all season long.

Orange Pip market has flagged up these two little streets to everyone in Middlesbrough and Teesside. People are making a date in their online diaries to make a beeline for the end of the month event. They will also come back in between times to use the little bars and interesting cafes and restaurants.

What a welcome success story from the summer of 2016.

orange pip aug bedford

orange pip aug bedford 1orange pip aug sold out


Orange Pip’s Boro Buzz

On Saturday it was the third Orange Pip Market and once again Baker Street, Middlesbrough was absolutely buzzing and the place to be.

orange pip july tom
Artisan food and drink, live entertainment and a fantastic atmosphere; Orange Pip Market is Middlesbrough’s biggest success story of the summer. Remember, stick a cross against the last Saturday of every month in your diary.

orange pip uly tall 3In fact even the weather has been playing ball because there is rarely a cloud in the sky when market day comes round and temperatures invariably soar. This all contributes to a market day that is packing out the Edwardian terraced Baker Street from 12 noon to early evening and giving the independent traders that feed and water us a massive and well deserved fillip.

If it is good for them then it is also so good for the town and the area. I guess the next thing to ask is where does the market go from here? When winter comes and finally the market day weather breaks how will everyone head for cover?

With such runaway popularity is there a possibility of spreading to neighbouring Bedford Street where the premises of some of the stalls are actually based? That could help produce an even bigger footfall or would that serve to dissipate the impact of an event that is now a real focal point for the whole community.

orange pip july tall 2
There were face painters, hair stylists and vintage photographers at work on entering Baker Street on Saturday.  Stalls selling cakes, crepes, teas, coffees and salad presented welcoming and fragrant aromas. Hog roasts were going down an absolute treat. And an Orange Pip twist on the Tees-tastic Parmo, an artisan Parmo was proving a major hit.

The brilliant Tom Joshua and his mighty band kicked off the live music entertainment in fine style. A young lad who is proving himself to be a singer songwriter of real skill, Tom wooed the crowds spilling out from the tables and chairs and stopped people in their tracks processing down the pavements either side. He even had us joining in his final chorus.

A marvellous Middlesbrough afternoon and once again Pip Pip hooray for the organisers of the Orange Pip Market.

orange pip 2

orange pip 1

orange pip olde youngorange pip 2



In Their (Sixth) Element

There is an indie publisher that is helping local authors realise their dreams. Over the last year or so I have come across several books that have been published right here on Teesside by Sixth Element Publishing. The Billingham Green based business produce books with a professional finish, the recent We Are Premier League being a real case in point. They are also responsible for bringing some great new talent to our book shelves, such as Will Net and author of the Middlesbrough Holmes stories, Mel Small.

I met up with Gillie Hatton of Sixth Element recently and talked to her about all the various services and support they offer aspiring authors. We started by Gillie telling me about one of their Self Publishing Workshops. They are proving very popular and extremely useful.

sixth elementQ: You had a recent event with Sixth Element.

Gillie: It was a self publishing workshop. It is aimed at people who are writing or have written a book and who have made the decision that they want to do something with it. So whether that is getting it ready to send out to an agent or publisher to go down the traditional route or whether they want to actually want to self publish it themselves.

sixth kherisIt is a friendly, informal get together where we can go so some of the process. What it takes to go from a written manuscript through the editing process. The revising, editing and proof reading and getting the story and the book actually right. Then taking people through what it takes to turn that into a book on the shelf. So it is things like typesetting. Some of the tips and hints from the trade that make it look like a real book from any of the big publishers, to little things that you can do that make it look right as opposed to looking self published and home made. Things like getting the cover designed right, writing the blurb. Getting an ISBN Number. How to get it on Amazon. How to get your online platform with twitter and facebook and Amazon. Get it all set up.

We could take for hours or even days but we squash it into one or two hours. On Saturday 25th June we had just one hour. The way we do it is to see who is there and what they are interested in and we go through the process and then if people have specific questions we are happy to wing it and see if we can help people. As a writer you are quite isolated. Even if you have a big publisher a lot of the sales and marketing is left to you on your own.

What we try to do is take you by the hand and give a bit of support and confidence to do it. That could mean a book is published as opposed to not being published.

Q: You are speaking from experience of having been in publishing for several years.

sith holmesG: Yes we have been doing this for six years now. We do non fiction and non fiction. We do through the whole range from science fiction, crime, thrillers, we have done erotic books. Non fiction, we have done humorous, football, local interest. We have had some brilliant writers from the local area that have written about the local area. Some have been fictionalised like Mel Small and his Holmes volumes. Based in Middlesbrough with fictional characters. My Only Boro is one of ours with Will Net, which is non fiction and is a walk through the town’s history and the football club but with such an edge of humour it is so dry. It has been constantly in print for the last 5 years and it is still popular.

We can help people by taking what they’ve got if it is a bit raw and polish it up or give them the knowledge that they can go and do it themselves confidently to end up with a really good book.

We can go right from mentoring to one to one sessions. We can help people get their story right. Even things like point of view, structure, plot. Then down to the nitty gritty of how to format dialogue and how to set up your word document with the indents and getting the line spacing right. Right the way through to helping them make sales, do book signings, write press releases. Get a website up and running.

Q: A great service there that you are delivering to people here locally.

sixth element 1G: We don’t just work with local writers, for instance we have worked with a writer down in Cornwall over the phone. We like actually talking to people and finding out exactly what they want to do with their book and where they want to go with it and how they want it to be. So we do like working face to face. Meeting up and talking about someone’s book is fantastic.

Q: Have you found that there are a lot of writers out there and a lot of talent?

G: Yes, we were surprised. We did the self publishing day last summer for Crossing The Tees and we did one at Storytellers pub in Stockton with Drake’s bookshop in Stockton. It is fantastic to have a bookshop in Stockton. We have been really chuffed with the number of people that have come up and said I am writing a book. It is really encouraging that there are people in this area that want to do it and actually get their books out there.

Q: You have got this brand new publication We Are Premier League photographs from the final game of the season, Boro v Brighton. The promotion cliff hanger. Tell us about it please.

we are premier leagueG: What we wanted to do was capture the emotion of the crowd; it is all about the fans and the people of Middlesbrough on that day. It was lunch time kick off, a really cold, misty day and it was the crowds going to the game and then everyone coming out of the game afterwards. Whether we had a book or not hinged on the final whistle. It had be promotion, it was no good dropping down to the play offs, it had to be guaranteed clinched promotion. The whole future of the town seemed to rest on those nine minutes of extra time and just whether Middlesbrough were going to do it. When they did it was amazing. Everybody going in was so excited and up for it. The atmosphere inside the ground was incredible. Afterwards it was just as if people were almost stunned, so emotional.

There were people outside crying just willing those minutes to go and the referee to blow his whistle. The whole town was waiting for the moment to see whether it was going to be OK or not. And it was and it was brilliant. Actually taking pictures of everyone coming out.

boro fans gillieQ: So there are photos of people before and after and you see the emotions written across peoples faces, of tension and delight.
G: Yes, everybody going in was up for it, come on lets do it. Coming out it was just such an emotional.. I think people were stunned. People sent us pictures from inside, the reactions after the game where people were so amazed and it was such good feeling that it actually happened. To think that the Premier League is coming to Middlesbrough next season is awesome.

Q: It is a Premier quality publication because the photos are so good and have been so well reproduced.

G: Thank you.

Q: It has been printed in Middlesbrough as well, hasn’t it?

G: Yes it is printed in Middlesbrough with a really fast turn around. We are very grateful for the printers for working with us on it. The pictures are a mixture of digital and film. So those taken on film we didn’t know for a week afterwards whether we had any pictures or not. You take digital pictures you can see straight away. As for the Film it was just amazing and magical for it to come back.

boro fan bnwQ: You have got the contrast in techniques as well.

G: Yes. And the black and white and the red. A lot of people have said that the black and white images are just incredible.

Q: There will be a lot of people unaware that they have been photographed in this book.

G: Yes, we have people now saying look there is so and so etc.

Q: It is on sale at WH SMITHS, Teesside Park and where else.

G: Middlesbrough Cleveland Centre WH SMITHS have got it now as well. And at MFC Retail (Boro shop). And you can get it direct from the website too.


River Tees: From Source To Sea

The Tees is the river that gives we Teessiders our name and our identity yet weirdly it is all too often overlooked or taken for granted. The river is viewed as a geographical and political divider rather than the unifying reason behind Teesside forming and developing. Tosh Warwick and Jenny Parker have produced a book that should start to change all that. The two have produced a wonderful and enlightening new book that follows the river from its Cross Fell source into the sea at Tees Mouth and looks at the way our river has been a gateway to commerce and trade and an industrial driver through the ages.

tosh smallerI posed some questions to Tosh Warwick to get a flavour of what River Tees From Source to Sea is all about.

We live on Teesside but do you think Teessiders take their river for granted in some ways?

The River Tees has a fascinating history with stories of Roman forts, world-renowned bridges and I think perhaps the book provides a way to appreciate the role of the Tees in the past, in the modern day and in the future of the area.  Much of what we do is defined by the river – many identify as Tees-siders, live in the Tees Valley, work in Stockton-on-Tees, shop at Teesside Park or study at Teesside University.

I think particularly with the decline of traditional industries along the Tees having vastly reduced the number of people who engage and encounter the river on a daily basis has inevitably reduced familiarity, turning it into something that for many has  ‘always just been there’.  It has become historicised and profiled as something that is part of a bygone era of great uncles who worked on the cranes of Middlesbrough Dock, grandfathers who loaded cargo at Dent’s Wharf or ancestors who were brewers or tanners in medieval Yarm.  Of course the idea of the Tees as something consigned to the past, not relevant to the twenty-first century,  is not true – AV Dawson, located at Dent’s Wharf, are one of the region’s leading multimodal firms, Middlesbrough Dock is now surrounded by education,  leisure,  training facilities and acclaimed public art, whilst the Yarm riverside is populated with high quality housing, heritage and leisure space.

river tees dorman longThere has of course also been, and continues to be, long-term interest in and appreciation of the River Tees from groups and organisations including  River Tees Rediscovered, Tees Archaeology, Tees Nautical Studies  and Tees Wildlife Trust.

Are you telling us to look again at the Tees in Teesside?

I think for those from Teesside, the book offers an opportunity to celebrate and highlight some of the important aspects of the Tees, a means by which to discover or rediscover the ‘steel river’.  I remember when starting work on the Transporter Bridge project watching a DVD from a reminiscence project centred upon the Bridge, on which Rob Nichols commented that there was a perception that the town had, in a sense, turned its back on the River Tees.  That observation really hit home with me and I think in looking to the Tees and celebrating the unique structures that span it, the natural beauty along its banks, the landmarks of industrial heritage, the important role the waterway plays in the region’s economy today and the potential for learning, leisure and regeneration in the future can help allay those concerns.  The book highlights that, in fact, there is very much an increase in interest along the river and it has much to offer across a wide variety of interests.  There is a lot to celebrate and be proud of.

I also hope that River Tees: From Source to Sea will encourage people to explore some aspects of the River Tees beyond those with which they are familiar.  Jenny and I would love nothing more than for readers to then head down to a new part of the Tees or seek to find out more about something that they have encountered in the book.

river tees plan 1877What particular topics do you look at in depth?

 The book is not intended to be the definitive book on the Tees.  It is there to introduce readers to explore some key themes about the River Tees and attempts to provide something of an overview on the story of the Tees.  Jenny has delved into charting the river in looking at the ‘Tumbling Tees’, taking readers on a journey from source to sea and exploring the origins of the Tees’ name, exploring some of the communities, features, folklore and towns along the way before turning attention to ‘The Natural River’.  As Jenny acknowledges ‘for most of its length the Tees is strikingly beautiful and a delight for nature-lovers’, and it was important that the historic romantic tourism of the Tees, its geology, flora, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, farming and fishing, nature reserves and saltmarshes received attention when celebrating the Tees.

river tees industryMy own background is in the heritage and history of the industrial areas along the Tees and I have focused on some of the industries along the river, ranging from well-known iron, steel and chemical companies to some of the less familiar interests along the river over the centuries.   Thus alongside the stories of ironmasters, ship builders and steel magnates, Yarm’s foreign trade links with Flanders and France, Stockton’s shipping of butter and a brass furnace at Billingham are explored.  We have also been very lucky in drawing upon some unique material held at Teesside Archives from the more celebrated firms along the Tees, including world-renowned firms such as Bell Brothers and Dorman Long.

yarm iron bridgeBridges of course feature in the book as an important part of the story of the Tees, its rich history and remain important today.  We look at the stories of bridges that remain today, some of which are world-renowned such as the Transporter Bridge, but also profile the history of some lesser-known, lost bridges, such as the collapse of Yarm’s ill-fated Iron Bridge in the 1800s, the daredevil bridge jumper Tommy Burn’s dive from Victoria Bridge in front of 4,000 spectators in 1890 and the tragic fall from Yarm Viaduct of a local farmer who mistook the parapet wall for the train station platform and plunged into the Tees.

stockton bridgeWe also consider the ways in which the Tees’ bridges have become iconic and have changed in their use and relevance over time from major parts of the industrial infrastructure to tourist attractions and extreme sports locations.  This is part of a wider look at the ways in which the Tees also has a lot to offer today for learning, leisure and the future of the region with the fantastic developments ongoing in recent decades with various education, learning and regeneration schemes which have included the opening of the Riverside Stadium, installation of Temenos and the establishment of world-leading further and higher education facilities close to the Tees.

transporter at nightDid you learn a lot through your research for this?

Researching the book has been a fascinating experience that has included delving into unique archival collections, sifting through historic photographs, speaking to those with knowledge of the river and also getting out and seeing the Tees ourselves.  It has been fascinating to discover new information about the role of the Tees in the civil wars, nineteenth-century riots at Stockton Stone Bridge on the issue of tolls and also to find out about the variety of activities ongoing along and on the Tees today, ranging from Tees Wheelyboats to the fantastic work carried out by Tees Wildlife Trust.

Do you think the river has a big role in the future as well as the past for Teesside?

We hope that whilst not shying away from the vast changes that the region has faced in recent decades which have changed the relationship with and role of the River Tees, we hope that the book also highlights the ways in which the River Tees continues to play an important role today and offers huge potential for Teesside moving forward.  It can unite the whole area and with the ongoing projects which celebrate and explore its importance and uses, and we hope that River Tees: From Source to Sea might contribute to this process.

river teesRiver Tees: From Source to Sea is published by Amberley Publishing and available in paperback now from and bookshops throughout the region.  The book will also be available on Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats.