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Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology is an urgent reaction to the recent closure of Redcar’s steelworks and a bid to make a positive contribution to the future of industry in the North East region.
It shows artworks, objects, documents, and new technologies sourced from and contributed by local collections and archives, regional companies and British and international artists.
The presentation captures the character of Teesside’s key manufactures, showing how they formed around the extraction of raw materials and the export of goods. It features archival materials and depictions of past production in the area alongside examples of innovative businesses operating today.
It also refers to the problems of the changing global economic landscape. Themes include globalisation, labour relations, the power of transnational finance, and the growing dominance of the service sector.
This gallery examines Teesside’s current developments in technology, business and education.
Three displays by local organisations represent a breadth of research, invention and training. Materials Processing Institute – which grew from the steel industry – analyses and tests materials. STEM Centre, at Middlesbrough College, provides skills relevant to industrial employment for various people, from students to those made redundant by companies’ closures. TeeGene experiments with the potential application of bacteria in the manufacture of eco-friendly products.
Arcus, Sock Monkey and Moments in 3D (with Teesside Launchpad), key local start-ups, characterise some of the creative technological output emerging from Teesside. They host an ‘Open Studio’, offering sessions for public engagement through learning and making.
This room brings together archival materials, many of which have never been on public view before, in a survey of Teesside’s industrial history, from the height of productivity to its demise. The display highlights the main industries that have shaped the region’s identity: mining, iron and steel, shipbuilding, and chemical.
Documents and objects include protective spectacles used in the steelworks, swatches of artificial fabrics created by Imperial Chemical Industries and photographs of the Smith’s Dock shipyard.
This display features artworks by British and international artists exploring aspects of today’s world economy. It shows economic trends, from production to mass consumption, and investigates issues such as inequality, gender-based pay gaps and the pervasive corporate mentality.
This room brings together artworks, some of which have never been on public view before, that portray Teesside’s iron and steel industry from the mid-nineteenth century to now, and demonstrate how it has influenced creativity in the region. The display focuses on the impact of production on nature, working conditions and politics.
The artworks include an impression of William Gladstone’s visit to Middlesbrough in 1862, ironstone carvings from the early twentieth century and Len Tabner’s 2016 proposal for the site of Redcar’s recently closed steelworks.
Photos from opening event, Saturday 25 June: