Organised by Durham University and Durham County Council, Summer in the City (SitC) aims to celebrate Durham City’s theatre, music and art. The inaugural event, held throughout June 2019, attracted about 19,000 visitors.

This year’s online event includes a community art club, exhibitions, performances and do-it-yourself activities for people of all ages to get creative from home; and because the materials are online, they can be enjoyed throughout the summer.

With the final exams of her Durham University English Literature degree over, Seraphina Monson decided to spend some of her free time enjoying and contributing to the festival.

Building on the festival’s Art Walk through Durham, Seraphina created a Virtual Treasure Hunt, challenging families to spot objects or animals in certain artworks.

The Northern Echo:

Seraphina Monson

“The first thing I did was to make a family-friendly activity which I thought I’d have enjoyed doing myself,” she said.

“By listing objects which featured in paintings and drawings in several of the various online exhibitions and the (university’s) Art Collection, I thought it would be a good way of getting children and their families to look through the SitC website, and create their own art at the same time.”

Next, inspired by a “Nonsense Literature” module she studied as part of her degree, Seraphina created a drawing game, inviting participants to create their own surrealist art.

Her own contribution combined Rene Magritte’s artwork The Blank Signature, which is part of the university’s collection, with The Count’s House, a popular folly on Durham’s riverbanks.

Entries into the game will be displayed in an online gallery.

Finally, Seraphina interviewed North-East artist Jo Stanness, whose architectural cut-outs Dunelm House and Apollo Pavilion are part of the university’s art collection and currently displayed online as part of the British Museum touring exhibition “Pushing Paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now”.

They spoke about Jo’s interest in architecture and music, how she creates her art and how she balances being an artist with her day job as a primary school teacher. The interview is available on the festival website.

Seraphina, who is now planning to study for a Master’s in English Literary studies at Durham University from September, said: “I have really enjoyed taking the initiative and being creative, and I’m pleased to have contributed some material to such a well-organised and stimulating resource.”

The Northern Echo:

Visit the website at; enjoy Seraphina’s Virtual Treasure Hunt at; try making your own surrealist art using the resources at and read her interview with Jo Stanness at For more the university’s Art Collection go to