“The Black Path” was an opportune path to work for the steelworkers of South Bank, Middlesbrough, and is now a piece of past and present history to the people of South Bank.”

Artists Foundation Press has spent the past year working with people in South Bank, Middlesbrough. Their artwork ‘Notes on the Black Path’, located along the public footpath off Old Station Road, is a large collage celebrating the historical route known as ‘The Black Path’ and the nearby community of South Bank. My trip to The Black Path gave me understanding of the heritage and history of the area through the power of words and voices of local people.

To demonstrate a present-day response to the Black Path during the collapse of the steel industry, the Black Path Project was launched by several artists who produced an exhibition based around the path at the House of Blah Blah in Middlesbrough, January 2006. The exhibition featured field recordings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and music, all produced to mirror the Black Path. Providentially, this project was able to capture the end of the Black Path era.
On October 26, 2019, Black Path Press was originally set up as a research and design tool for a public artwork known as Notes on The Black Path. It was designed by artist group Foundation Press, on a piece of 100m wall, off Old Station Road, Middlesbrough.

Black Path Press, a community publishing project, produces books with people in South Bank, Middlesbrough, an area surrounding the historical Black Path route. These books are chunks of a collective effort to reimagine the story of the Black Path community. With varying subjects, the publications explore different perspectives of the past, present, and future.
Small-run books made by the Black Path Press are distributed conventionally via word of mouth and shared with local libraries, museums, and individuals living in and around South Bank. Also, a printing press has been set up, with an MZ77OE risograph printer installed at Golden boy Green Community Center, Normanby Road, South Bank.

Some of the books produced by Black Path Press include:
1) Digital drawings made after a walk around the site of Dorman Long, collecting shapes for a possible typeface
2) Collages, turning digital drawings and photographs into letters, collaboratively creating a font for black Path Press
3) South Bank & The Black Path, Pattern Sampler vol 1/vol 2 to mention but a few.

In the framework of the project, Foundation Press has delivered forty public workshops, publishing books with different groups and individuals. Their approaches to books and workshops are through transcribed conversations, unearthing archival content, object-based histories, individual artist commissions, and creating collaboratively made patterns or typefaces.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, MIMA, has supported the exhibition of Black Path Press material and the work is on display in MIMA’s Art in Action space, though due to Covid-19 the building is presently closed.
The Middlesbrough Collection is also permanently on display and holds over 2000 artworks at the MIMA art gallery. The exhibition changes annually.

With profound gratitude to MIMA, local community artwork projects are setting off, fully supported, thus encouraging the development of more similar projects giving residents in the area an opportunity to learn about their local heritage and be more involved in the local Tees Valley art scene.

You can find out more about what MIMA are currently doing at mima.art or @mimauseful on social media.

For further information about the Black Path you can visit the websites below:

Article by Chloe Tempestoso

Do you have a story, something to say or an idea for what we should cover on The Tees Online? Contact us at hello@thetees.online.