Inspiration for this project came from learning about heroes of Sunderland’s history who fought for their belief in justice.
Men and women such as: Freeborn John Lilburne, leader of the Levellers; Annabella Milbanke, Lady Byron, who campaigned to abolish slavery; Henry Binns who was also an abolitionist and would only sell cotton picked by free labour; Norman Gaudie, Sunderland footballer and First World War conscientious objector; and the Women on the Wear who worked tirelessly to keep Sunderland’s shipbuilding industry going during both world wars.
The stories of Sunderland’s campaigners for freedom and justice were shared with participants who then recorded their own struggles for justice on paper and hid them inside clay spheres. Each person hand crafted their own sphere and decorated it with a pattern, drawing or symbol, giving a hint as to what was inside.
In telling their stories, participants connected with both the past and today, a reminder of Sunderland’s long association with human rights and the work still needed to ensure equality for all.
The shape of the spheres is reminiscent of stones called Cannonball Rocks which are a geological limestone secretion found only on the North East coastline. They were displayed in the form of cannonballs to reflect Sunderland’s maritime past. They represent and celebrate people from all over the world who have come together to live in Sunderland and some of the conflicts they face or have fled.
Many thanks go to the wonderful staff and customers at Sunderland Care and Support, the Bangladeshi Centre, the Sangini women’s organisation and Pennywell House Approved Premises, all of whom were so open in sharing their amazing stories. Our lives are reflected in theirs.