Grafters Gables is a unique combination of street art and storytelling. Local street artist, Frank Styles, painted a series of eight hand-sprayed murals on gable-ends throughout Hendon, Sunderland. Each mural was inspired by a character or event from the area’s past, and I shared these stories in a novella and in a street play that was performed before each of the murals.

Rob Reed, Frank Styles, Corinne Kilvington, Jane Nesbitt, James Whitman, and George Cooperwaite, in front of a mural depicting ‘The Battle of Hendon’.

(left to right) Rob Reed, Frank Styles, Corinne Kilvington, Jane Nesbitt, James Whitman, and George Cooperwaite, in front of ‘The Battle of Hendon’.

Response from local residents was fantastic, and the novella — Heroes of Hendon — is available at Amazon (or you could borrow it Back on the Map and Sunderland libraries). The project was a finalist in the Journal Culture Awards 2016 (Best Event – Sunderland) and Heroes of Hendon was long listed in that year’s Saboteur Awards (Best Novella).

My collaborators on this project were two of Sunderland’s finest creatives — Frank Styles and Corinne Kilvington (director). For our street performance, we were joined by the wonderful Rob Reed, who played the Spirit of Hendon Library (opposite Corinne’s Nannie Scott).

Heroes of Hendon - A Grafters Gables novella

Available at Amazon (click image).

To source the stories for the project, we worked closely with the Hendon History Group, who gave us lots of ideas and kept us right on what counts as ‘proper Hendon’. We also ran workshops in local libraries and museums, in which participants responded to the stories we’d written and artifacts from Sunderland Museum’s archives.

Grafters Gables was supported by Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council, and the Community Trust Fund.