YOUNG people took inspiration from a classic French painting currently exhibited in the region to create their own artwork and to shine a light on issues that matter to them.

Pupils from St John’s Catholic Academy, Bishop Auckland and youngsters from The LADDER Centre, in Ferryhill, studied Nicholas Poussin’s painting The Triumph of Pan.

Poussin’s 1636 original is currently on loan from the National Gallery to the Bishop Trevor Gallery at Auckland Castle, as part of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019.

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Working with The Auckland Project regeneration charity and photographer Louise Taylor, the students created two photographic artworks tackling the issues of excess and identity in modern society. The work is on display at Auckland Tower visitor centre, Bishop Auckland Market Place, until January 5.

Jilly Johnston, learning officer at The Auckland Project, who led the initiative said: “The idea behind this project was to encourage more young people to engage with art, as well as providing a platform for participants to showcase their own creativity and discuss some of the issues that matter to them.

“The result has been two impactful artworks, which demonstrate a real connection to The Triumph of Pan and show how its emotive themes still resonate more than 380 years after Poussin painted it.”

The Northern Echo:

The Triumph of Pan shows a group of nymphs and satyrs revelling before a statue of Pan, the god of woods and fields, as they take part in a celebration of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, fertility and theatre.

For their interpretation of the French classic, The LADDER Centre girls’ group at Ferryhill chose specific characters from the painting and recreated them using modern props, costumes and masks. They then took a photograph of the reimagined characters, offering both a humorous and sinister view of decadence and excess in contemporary life.

Group member Kelsey Smith said: “It was a lot of fun getting to dress up and take on the parts of the people in the painting. Seeing The Triumph of Pan was our first time in an art gallery, and we really enjoyed it. It wasn’t what we expected at all.”

The year ten photography students from St John’s focussed on Poussin’s projection of identity and deception and translating it into how they perceive people to wear a metaphorical mask in the modern day. The 12 students then combined their individual photographs to create a life size figure of Pan himself.

Student Harry Walker said: “It was really exciting to be involved in this project and I gained a lot of confidence and a sense of achievement working with other people. It’s really good to have our work displayed outside of the school and know that the public can see it.”