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Castlegate shopping centre unveils new commission

26 July 2017

The installation of a new landmark artwork in Stockton-on-Tees, by acclaimed artist Aikaterini Gegisian, is built on Tees Valley inspiration.

Image of the opening of art venue

Aikaterini Gegisian's large-scale work will be officially unveiled on 26 July 2017. Addressing the economic heritage of the Tees Valley and with over 38 meters wide, it is sited at the prominent riverside location of Stockton-on-Tees' Castlegate Shopping Centre. This commission has come about through collaboration between Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; Ellandi and Angelo, Gordon & Co, the owners of Castlegate Shopping Centre; and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

Aikaterini Gegisian was proposed, along with four other artists, by Miguel Amado, Senior Curator, and Giles Maffett, Assistant Curator, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, to produce a work for Castlegate Art. They, along with the other commissioning organisations representatives, Jan Doherty, Arts Development Manager and Reuben Kench, Head of Culture & Leisure, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, and Karen Eve, General Manager, Castlegate Shopping Centre, came to the conclusion the most suited artist for this commission was Aikateri Gegisian.

Gegisian comments: "I am thrilled to be invited to exhibit as part of Castlegate Art, and delighted to have the opportunity to respond to such an inspiring area. I live and work in the Tees Valley, and so it is with great pride that I can make my own contribution to the region by creating a work for such a prominent site, and to bring art beyond the gallery into the public realm."

Following a period of research and engagement with local residents, Gegisian has created Turn Back Tide. The work suggests the evolution of central Stockton-on-Tees from an industrial past towards its current status as a hub of trade and service provision. Turn Back Tide acts as a bridge between the former sites of production surrounding central Stockton-on-Tees, the river as a historic route for the transportation of goods and natural resources, and Castlegate Shopping Centre as the present container of goods.

Gegisian took as her starting point a series of product catalogues from various former local factories, including South Durham Steel and Iron Co and Head Wrightson. She brought together diagrams of steel sections from these publications with copies of archival photographs of local factories, and contrasted these images with views of shopping centres, depictions of ancient temples and reproductions of decorative objects.

Senior Curator Miguel Amado commented: "Part of our vision is to take a leading role in addressing current issues within politics, economics and culture, and to contribute to change. Working with artists operating locally as well as showing relevant work within the wider community is part of this aim, so that art is accessible to everyone. Aikaterini Gegisan was commissioned for this project given her ongoing examination of themes of identity, history and memory, and her current research into the Tees Valley's economic heritage."

Castlegate Art provides a new art platform for Teesside. The name of the initiative is the combination of 'Castlegate' with 'Art', suggesting art for and at Castlegate Shopping Centre. The commissioners are keen for the project to have a community oriented focus, and situate it with its constituents, who are the customers of Castlegate Shopping Centre. They also want to widen the scope of the commissioned artists, who may work with all sorts of media and engage with ideas rather than just studio-based activity.

Karen Eve, General Manager, Castlegate Shopping Centre, added: "We are most delighted with this new installation at Castlegate Shopping Centre. Turn Back Tide will be available to view on Wednesday, July 26th from 6pm onwards, when we officially unveil it. We welcome Stockton-on-Tees and the wider Tees Valley community to join us where the work can be viewed, which is from the edge located to the pedestrian bridge on Riverside Road, Stockton-on-Tees, adjacent to Castlegate Shopping Centre.