Arts News


Pioneering North East children help solve our energy problems, Little Inventors

  • North East
  • crafts, combined arts, interdisciplinary arts, libraries, museums, visual arts
  • Jill Bennison


Inventive children in the North East have had their ingenious invention ideas brought to life by local artists and makers as part of an inspiring and innovative online exhibition for the Little Inventors Pioneers Energy Challenge. 

The initiative, funded by Arts Council England and Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, asked children aged 8-12 to think up ideas to generate, save or use energy in better and more sustainable ways. Workshops took place in cultural venues, libraries, schools, across the region from Berwick to Darlington. Over 3000 ideas were created, with 15 young people from Tees Valley, Sunderland and Northumberland chosen to work with Little Inventors and professional makers, designers and engineers, who helped to turn their inventions from idea to reality.

The North East of England has a proud tradition of inventions - from Stephenson’s Rocket to the first electric lightbulb - and the region’s companies are at the forefront of new innovations in renewable energy. It is fitting that a new initiative which encouraged children to invent new ways to save energy has resulted in an creative online exhibition to be viewed by a worldwide audience.

The finished models were due to be displayed this summer in Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees. Like so many exhibitions and events this year, the exhibition was cancelled. Little Inventors turned this into a positive, exciting opportunity to create their first online exhibition.

Dominic Wilcox, the founder of Little Inventors said:  

“Pioneers is a fantastic collaboration of the inspiring imagination of children and the expert skills of makers in the region who have combined to make some really wonderfully creative work. It’s particularly impressive given that half way through the project we all had to cope with the difficulties caused by Covid-19. However, everyone pulled together and we have an online exhibition of creative work that is a joy to see, some of the most imaginative work going on in the UK. It all shows how innovative, inventive and adaptable we are in this region, nothing can stop us”.

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Photo, Crowds enjoying Garden of Light, by TILT. Lumiere London 2016, produced by Artichoke, supported by Mayor of London. Credit Matthew Andrews 2016.

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Photo, Jennie Gill, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield. Photo Our Favourite Places / Nigel Barker for Yorkshire Artspace.