Great North Passion: Easter in a shipping container

Shipping container The National Trust's Souter Lighthouse was the first to have a shipping container delivered

Related Stories

Twelve shipping containers have been placed around the north-east of England. They will be turned into art installations for a live Easter programme on BBC One on Good Friday.

In a car park on the South Tyneside coast an assortment of artists, photographers, retired fishermen and BBC producers is waiting for a four-tonne box.

Crane operators in hard hats are preparing to move this 40ft (6m) shipping container from the back of a lorry onto the gravel next to Souter Lighthouse.

As it hangs in the air someone jokes that, if it falls, a hard hat is not going to save anyone. The expectant silence is broken only by the click of camera shutters.

View from inside shipping container The bare containers will be adorned inside or out, covered or filled, to reflect the stations of the cross

This steel box, and eleven others like it, have been placed in locations across Northumberland, Middlesbrough, Tyneside and Wearside.

Start Quote

It's meant to be quite thought provoking, but not mysterious”

End Quote Richard Broderick Artist

Each has a dedicated artist who, with their community's help, will transform it to reflect Christ's trial and death through the stations of the cross.

The adorned dozen will then join 60 others to form a crucifix in Bents Park in South Shields on Good Friday, for a televised event with music, performances and a documentary.

Nobody seems fazed by the enormity of the project. The artists are used to making things that are big and unusual.

Patrick Murphy, who is working on a container in Ashington, covered the Walker Gallery in 250 pigeons for the Liverpool Biennial.

There is also Richard Broderick, who put a 66ft (20m) bird on a crane and floated it up the River Tyne on Millennium Eve.

Joseph Hillier Souter artist Joseph Hillier has "always had a fondness for shipping containers"

Broderick says crowning his 20ft (3m) box with a fishing boat - pale blue, with a net made by retired fishermen from North Shields Fishermen's Mission - is a "long way off the weirdest thing I've ever done".

"I've covered seven-and-a-half-tonne trucks in ships that sailed through Derry - literally through the streets," he says.

Easter on the BBC

This experience will come in handy - he is planning to float his shipping container up the River Tyne from North to South Shields in time for Good Friday.

The imagery is simple, he thinks. St Peter is depicted as a fisher of men and Pilate is shown questioning Jesus on the meaning of truth.

"It's meant to be quite thought provoking, but not mysterious," he says.

Raymond Morse, chairman of a retired fishermans' club, will be helping with the nets. He remembers a time when there were more than 100 trawlers fishing out of North Shields.

Shipping container under arches at Sage Gateshead The shipping containers, including one at Sage Gateshead, will join 60 others to make the shape of a cross

"All I've known all my life is fishing, nothing else," he says. "I first went to sea on a fishing boat when I was three. For two years before I went to school I was on a fishing boat."

In Ashington, Murphy's container will draw parallels between Christ being stripped of his clothes and the north east being "stripped of industry".

Inside will be a 30ft table representing work, mealtimes and community. At the back, there will be the word "hope" shown in neon.

As a Christian, he is conscious of the part his faith will play in his art.

"The 'hope' aspect is the ultimate part of it for me," he says. "We don't want this piece to be about the past - we want to reference the past but it needs to be about the future really."

Heenan Bhatti Bhatti says the idea came from the area's shipping history and the rivers which "gave it life"

The Great North Passion is being produced in partnership with the Cultural Spring, a £2m Arts Council project to get more people involved in the arts in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

BBC producer Heenan Bhatti said he wanted to tell the Easter story "respectfully but also in an innovative way".

"Two millennia ago Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa to his death but it is a story that has, within those steps, contemporary themes of love, of loss, of self sacrifice," he says.

"Whether you're of the Christian faith or different faiths or of no faith, those are the kind of themes that mean something to everyone."

The Great North Passion will be broadcast on Good Friday, 18 April on BBC One.

The event is free - application for tickets can be made online or in person at the Customs House.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Tyne & Wear


Newcastle upon Tyne

Min. Night 8 °C

BBC Local Live

    18:00: Good evening

    That's all from BBC Local Live for today, thanks for joining us.

    We'll be back from 08:00 on Tuesday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for the North East.

    17:58: Evening TV Jeff Brown BBC Look North

    He was stabbed to death near his home in Sunderland. Today, George Dagg's son described it as "a callous and cowardly attack," which had "ripped the family apart".

    At Newcastle Crown Court, Jess Ryan was jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the murder of Mr Dagg - and his brother Jack must serve at least 21 years for his part in the attack.

    We'll have that story and more at 18:30 on BBC One.

    17:55: Rain continuing overnight Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    Expect the rain to continue with strengthening winds, but it will be mild with lows overnight of 8C (46F).

    Kay Crewdson

    All that means it should remain frost free as we go into the morning.

    17:46: Generous green fingered gift Hartlepool Mail

    Foodbank leaders in Hartlepool have praised allotment holders who were asked to pledge some veg after an amazing response.

    17:36: South Shields school's Ebola contribution

    Donations have helped children's charity Plan UK raise more than £370,000 to support families caught in the grip of the West Africa Ebola crisis.

    A healthcare worker in protective gear is seen at an Ebola treatment centre in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone, in October 2014

    More than £1,640 was raised by pupils at St Gregory's Primary School in South Shields through a sponsored spelling contest.

    The money also includes more than £216,500 raised through Plan UK's Christmas Appeal, and will fund life-saving support as well as easing a looming food shortage across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

    17:26: Theft and robbery appeal

    Cleveland Police are appealing for information to trace 32-year-old Dominic James Stewart who is wanted in connection with a number of thefts and a robbery in Middlesbrough.

    Dominic James Stewart

    Members of the public are asked to not to approach him, but call Cleveland Police on the emergency number 999 if they see him.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the non-emergency number 101.

    17:11: Firefighters to ease paramedic pressures BBC Tees

    Firefighters in County Durham are being given advanced medical training to work alongside ambulance crews.

    Fire engine

    Deputy Chief Fire Officer for County Durham and Darlington, Stuart Errington, told BBC Tees that it is in addition to the standard medical training all firefighters get, and the aim it to ease the pressure on paramedics.

    16:58: Evacuation latest

    Follow Northumbria Police on Twitter for the latest on the evacuation.

    16:56: The Gate evacuation

    A section of the Empire Cinema at The Gate in Newcastle city centre has been evacuated as a precaution following reports of a potentially suspicious package.

    Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen said: "I'd like to emphasise this is purely precautionary while the item is recovered.

    "We appreciate the city centre is busy and we're doing everything possible to minimise disruption but public safety is our priority."

    16:48: Jailed George Dagg killers 'cowardly' Duncan Leatherdale BBC News online

    Two brothers who stabbed a Sunderland man to death after he turned his back on them have been jailed for life.

    Jack (left) and Jess Ryan

    Jess Ryan, 25, must spend a minimum of 25 years in prison while Jack Ryan, 22, must serve at least 21 years.

    The court heard Jess Ryan stabbed Mr Dagg in the back of the leg in Sunderland on 2 June with the help of his brother Jack after an argument.

    After the sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court Mr Dagg's sons called the brothers "callous and cowardly".

    16:31: School speed restrictions increase The Journal Newspaper

    Durham County Council has launched a consultation on introducing 20mph zones outside 34 schools across the county.

    16:18: Boro boss to bounce back BBC Tees

    Aitor Karanka has said he "won't allow standards to slip" after Middlesbrough lost at Ipswich on Saturday.

    Aitor Karanka

    The Boro boss was critical of his team's first-half performance in the 2-0 defeat.

    It ended their eight-game unbeaten run and saw them drop to fourth in the Championship.

    15:53: Arrest over Gateshead death

    Northumbria Police have confirmed that a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of a woman in Gateshead.

    Michelle Jane Grey, 42, was found on Hillfield Street in Bensham on Friday night.

    A 41-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

    15:36: Newcastle Station taxi row

    Taxi drivers who pick up passengers from Newcastle Station say they're angry they've been asked to attend a course, or risk losing their licenses.

    Taxi cab

    The train operator East Coast has sent the drivers a letter offering them several dates in the new year for the free workshop on destinations.

    But the taxi drivers say it should be voluntary, as roadworks at the station are already having an impact on their business.

    East Coast say they consulted with a representative of the drivers and want to support Newcastle City Council's aim in improving awareness of the city's attractions.

    15:17: Helping the vulnerable

    Street angels, or pastors, will be spending their evenings over the festive period helping everyone from revellers to the vulnerable and homeless.

    Street angels in Redcar

    Anne Connelly, founder of the Redcar Beacons, started the charity one month ago and said she "cares very much" about the community and wanted to help those in need. Find out more about the work she and her fellow pastors do, here.

    14:55: Sting joins musical cast Neil Smith Arts reporter, BBC News

    Singer Sting has joined the cast of the Broadway musical he wrote about a group of unemployed shipbuilders in Wallsend.

    Sting taking his bows at the end of a performance of The Last Ship

    Set in Sting's home town, The Last Ship tells the story of the shipbuilders who take over a closed factory to build one final vessel.

    Previously lacklustre ticket sales have seen a boost since the singer confirmed he was joining the show for a limited period.

    14:32: Mum avoids bus slime leak The Gazette

    A mum has spoken of the moment passengers narrowly avoided being covered by "green slime" when coolant fluid leaked through the ceiling of a bus.

    14:11: Let it go! via Facebook

    Staff at BBC Newcastle recorded this, their version of Let It Go from Frozen as a special Christmas treat.

    Alfie Joey singing

    See how many presenters you can spot...we apologise in advance for the *slightly* out of tune singing.

    13:48: A1 accident

    An accident on the A1 has closed the exit slip road at Birtley lane - causing slow traffic northbound at the A167 Durham Road junction.

    13:35: Calling all angels

    There are calls for more volunteers to join a group which helps protect people on the streets of Middlesbrough.

    Man asleep in street

    The Boro Angels patrol the streets on an evening - offering help to vulnerable partygoers.

    13:16: Lunchtime TV Colin Briggs BBC Look North

    Home or away, it makes no difference as the Black Cats win the derby game yet again, and angels in reflective jackets - the volunteers who are there to help those who are in the greatest of need.

    Get those stories and more with me at 13:30 on BBC One.

    12:58: Give us your feedback

    What do you think of BBC Local Live?

    It's written by reporters across the North East and brings you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. We'd like your feedback about this service.

    12:47: Dagg murderers jailed for life Sunderland Echo
    12:31: Gutierrez back playing after cancer Phil Dawkes BBC Sport

    Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez will make his comeback for Newcastle in an Under-21s game against West Ham on Monday.

    Jonas Gutierrez

    The 31-year-old returned to the club last month and has been training after overcoming testicular cancer.

    Gutierrez had an operation in his native Argentina to remove his left testicle in September after the discovery of a tumour, before undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

    11:58: Rodents drive family from flat The Shields Gazette

    A woman says she had to flee her home in South Tyneside with her two young children because it was overrun by mice.

    11:37: Search of the year

    Gateshead woman Joanne Milne has been featured in Google's 2014 Year of Search, a Youtube video featuring the year's most popular internet searches.

    Joanne Milne

    Joanne was filmed hearing for the first time after having cochlear implants fitted. The footage of the moment has been viewed over four million times.

    11:14: Police praise football fans Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Northumbria Police have thanked the public and football fans for their cooperation and patience following a busy day in Newcastle city centre.

    Newcastle v Sunderland

    More than 200,000 visited the area to watch the Tyne-Wear derby and enjoy the festivities.

    10:53: Christmas conman warning Hartlepool Mail

    Vulnerable pensioners have been warned to watch out for Christmas conmen after it emerged that one elderly resident had paid out a staggering £40,000 for building work which wasn't needed.

    10:24: MP welcomes Hartlepool Evans stance BBC Tees

    The Labour MP for Hartlepool - Iain Wright - has praised the town's football club for quickly dismissing claims it was looking to sign convicted rapist Ched Evans.

    Ched Evans

    It comes after newly appointed manager Ronnie Moore said there was a possibility he could sign the 25-year-old.

    The club has since released a statement saying that will not happen.

    09:59: Turkey tips

    The Food Standards Agency tweets: It's National Defrost Your Turkey Day! Here are some top tips to help you defrost your turkey (safely!) #DYT2014

    09:35: Giving seflies some stick Mike Parr BBC Tees

    "Selfie sticks" are the latest must have present this Christmas, apparently.

    Mike Parr

    If you're not up-to-date with the latest tech gadgets - they are handheld extendable poles for smartphones which help the user take better selfies and panoramic pictures.

    Do you want one? Are you a selfie fan, do you take a lot of pics of yourselves and your friends or is this all a bit narcissistic and vain?

    Get in touch and send us your festive selfies via twitter or Facebook.

    09:19: Redheugh Bridge closed

    The Redheugh Bridge is closed to high sided vehicles in both directions because of strong winds.

    09:15: Share your views

    We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    08:49: NHS to 'unlock secrets' using DNA James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News

    A new genetics project taking place in Newcastle and elsewhere could shed light on diseases including cancer and rare genetic disorders, the NHS says.


    Under the scheme, 11 Genomics Medicine Centres are being set up in English hospitals to gather DNA information to help devise targeted treatments for a wide range of diseases.

    It is focussing on cancer and rare genetic diseases.

    The aim is to look at the genetic code of 100,000 people within three years in order to develop new tests and drugs.

    08:31: A19 obstruction

    The A19 exit slip road in Acklam is partially blocked northbound because of an obstruction in the road.

    08:11: Warning for wind Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    There is a yellow warning for wind in the North East until midday.

    Kay Crewdson

    There will be some heavy downpours of rain and risks of gales along the east, but it's mild with highs of 13C (55).

    08:00: Good morning Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • BBC CultureBest of 2014

    BBC Culture weighs in on the ten most important blockbusters of the year


  • HoverboardClick Watch

    Testing the hoverboard's magnetic levitation - but will it ever replace the bicycle?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.