Transformative Doors

All is not what it seems behind closed doors…

Belsay Awakes is a £6million project delivered over three years (2020-23) aiming to transform a visitor’s experience at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. The project involves crucial conservation and redesign work, in addition to creating a new Wildman themed woodland play area, a new café, outdoor classroom, indoor education base, and fun trails around the grounds. Our students undertake this project to connect with Belsay and its history, and to see it through new eyes as it ‘Awakes’.

A place with Grecian architecture, medieval castle, and thirty acres of enchanting gardens, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens holds a labyrinthine of doors connecting one corridor to another. There are sizeable doors of grandeur and discreet doors which are narrow and squat. Doors can be misleading; one side of the door can behold something so vastly different from the other. Either slightly open (ajar) or closed, doors can evoke both inviting qualities and forbidden secrets.

It is hard not to be inspired and imagine otherworldly narratives at Belsay. Soaked and steeped in the passages of time, its doors are waiting to open our imaginations as Belsay Awakes. This project will be an imaginative blend of Architectural Photography, Surrealism, Digital Compositing and the many doors within the grounds of Belsay Hall. In this Photography project, students will create a series of digitally manipulated photographs and cinemographs, which will be curated together digitally to reflect the awakening of Belsay Hall through imagination and unlocked doors.

Supported by: Belsay Hall, Castle & GardensEnglish Heritage & The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Mentored by: Jennine Wilson (Photography)
Project Contributors: Location, architectural & construction photographer Sally Ann Norman & architectural photographer Jill Tate

Project Outline: Surrealism –weird, wonderful, artistic. How can this be combined with the history of Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens to reflect how Belsay Hall is awakening?
From a socially distanced visit to Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, to learning how to create cinemographs, students will discover how to bring their research-based surrealist photography to life. By delving into the history of Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, and the history of the surrealism movement, students create their own concept for a digital photography composition. Students will create their own curated image based on their surrealist door concept, supported in the discovery and implementation of techniques and skills such as planning a photoshoot, multiple compositing, and digital techniques.
A historical location come to life through surrealism and photography, if your interests lie in architectural photography, surrealism, digital compositing, cinemographs, and storytelling, you will love this project.

The Brief: This project develops conceptual and practical skills, including research, planning, design, and digital post-production. Basing their photography concept on their own research and an in-person visit, students immerse will immerse themselves in the real story of Belsay Hall, learning the history of the grounds. Getting into the mind and lives of the people who lived and worked there, students will combine surrealism, photography, and history, to create a digital composition based on a transformative door at Belsay Hall.

Project Results: Please view the final results of the students’ work from Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Kings Priory School and Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.  

Art Photography by Ava Bramley from Kings Priory School.
Art Photography by Esther Lane from Cardinal Hume Catholic School.
Art Photography by Faye Brown from Cardinal Hume Catholic School.
Art Photography by Lucy Roxburgh from Cardinal Hume Catholic School.
Art Photography by Seth Wylie from Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.

Thank you & well done!

All we have left to say is thank you and well done, not only to the students but to the schools and teachers involved in the Belsay Awakes project at Cardinal Hume Catholic SchoolKings Priory SchoolRoyal Grammar School NewcastleJesmond Park Academy and Boldon School, to the parents who helped along the way, Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens of course, who have supported and contributed to these projects and the TICE team that plugged away at the project week after week.

To the students – we hope you have enjoyed this project, we hope in years to come that you can proudly present a cultural heritage project you did, achieved, quite frankly smashed. Well done and congratulations from everyone here at TICE.

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