Neither rain nor thunder could put a dampener on the first Animating Hexham exhibition  led by the Queens Hall and funded by Historic England on 9 September.

The event attracted a large crowd, featuring artists families and friends, Hexham residents and local councillors, who defied the weather to come out and celebrate the artwork as a community.

The artistic director at Quens Hall, Katy Taylor recalls how the project started. She said: "We got funding to do a big culture program for three years to celebrate the heritage of the high street in Hexham. But becuase of the pandemic, people could not do the work. So there was an opportunity to bid for a small amount of money to create something during or post-pandemic.

"We decided that Animating Hexham would be a great idea, as we could most of the work digitally and welcome audiences back into an open space. As when we first started to do this work, we had no idea when people would be able to go back out but we figured even if people weren't allowed out they would still see the animations."

"We decided to put the work in empty spaces or local businesses after a social media post we posted asking where we could put the art work and we had some messages from local businesses who let us use their spaces."

Dominic Smith, a consultant curator working at Queens Hall and who commissioned the artists for the project, had the difficult decision of which artists to pick for the project. He said: "There were so many artists who came forward and it was a shame we had to turn a lot of them down. We could only hire so many, but who we chose, I believe really connected with the project."

He also adds that he was concerned about the weather and not many people turnng up.

He said:"When I first looked at the weather forecast this morning, my heart sank and when I drove here it was thunder and lightening."

But then everyone braved it. The best moment was, after the welcome speach cernemony, I walked up the street and saw the crowd of people that turned up and I just thought it was a heart warming moment."

One of the artists Rozi Fuller speaks about the experience and of the night. She said : "Im really delighted to be have been involved and I think there is really a high standard of workand  it all look relly good.I have had a couple of people come up to me asking about the event what my art piece was , so it was great to tell them about everything."

Along with the public, many of the Hexham councillors were out to celebrate the artist and community's work.

Cllr Trevor Cessford, Centeral Hexham, said: "I think it's absolutely fantastic, It's great to see everyone out and about in the community. Katy has done a wonderful job of organising the exhibition." 

Cllr Catherine Homer, Hexham East, also adds: "I've been a part of Animating Hexham from the start from the initial bid to Historic England Action Zone. So it is quite phenominal to be here this evening, and actually seeing the first tangable work of the bat.

"The cultural program is really important and one of the biggest things about Heritage Action Zone is people getting involved and bits of the cultural fund, which was successful against the odds, was a way of brnging people in and letting them see what the Heritage Action Zone was all about." 

"It's great to see so many peple out and my bigggest hope is that people of Hexham will get behind is. It is on for four nights. So come out and see it."

The artists and community artwork will be on show for four days untill Sunday 12, from 7-9pm.