AN ARTS festival has closed with the premiere of a new musical tribute to the nine victims of a lifeboat disaster.

The performance of Ed Carter’s False Lights Seaham on the County Durham town’s seafront on Saturday night (November 15) marked the 52nd anniversary of the George Elmy disaster and the end of the first East Durham Creates Festival.

Eight men and a boy died after the George Elmy capsized during a rescue in high seas off Seaham in November 1962 – five volunteer crew members and four fishermen who had just been salvaged from their stricken vessel.

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Gateshead-based artist and musician Mr Carter performed the piece himself using a large wooden structure which was part musical instrument, part sculpture, with support from Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band and east Durham-based singer-songwriter Jez Lowe.

The title of his piece is a reference to so-called false lights seen along the Durham coastline in the 1860s that caused many shipwrecks and led to the construction of ten electric lighthouses, of which Seaham’s is one.

The inaugural East Durham Creates Festival included more than 40 events covering storytelling, performance, film, drawing, music, sculpture, art, theatre and games.

Supported by Beamish Museum, arts commissioner Forma and the East Durham Trust, it will run twice a year until summer 2016.

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