Although Wearside’s artistic venues remain closed because of the pandemic, a Sunderland Culture project has brought art to the streets of the city.


Here’s everything you need to know about HOT NEW IT III, the limited edition artwork causing quite a stir in the city centre… 


A new, specially-commissioned artwork has appeared on a prominent billboard in the city Centre.

HOT NEW IT III has been installed on a billboard in Silksworth Row, just along from the iconic Ship Isis pub. 


The story behind the artwork…  



The artwork was created by Sunderland-born artist Matthew Dowell and is the third and final exhibition in a collaboration between Sunderland Culture and Spaghetti Factory, a curatorial project that experiments with art in unusual spaces.

The Spaghetti Factory is Eve Cromwell and Jenny McNamara, who started putting on exhibitions in their house in central Newcastle in 2018 after meeting at University of Sunderland. 

The exhibitions started in their living room and expanded to include guest curation, workshops and digital projects, working across the North East.

Their first HOT NEW IT exhibition featured three artists from University of Sunderland: Sarah Winslett, Anthony Amoako Attah and Elizabeth Griffith.

Each artist’s work was selected to complement the work in the Museum’s Art Gallery and explored ideas of landscape, body image, and identity through glassware design.

The second in the series featured four more Wearside artists: Kevin Petrie, Brenda Watson, Katie Watson and Paddy Killer. 

This exhibition responded to Received Wisdom – the first of the Museum’s Arts Council Collection National Partner exhibitions.


Sunderland’s arts community continues to expand… 



Rebecca Ball, Sunderland Culture’s Creative Director, explained: 

“We started working with Spaghetti Factory in 2019 and their three HOT NEW IT exhibitions, featuring contemporary local talent, were going to be part of Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ programme.

Unfortunately, Covid closed our venues during the programme but through using the prominent billboard, HOT NEW IT III can still be seen in the flesh.

“Matthew’s work explores the area he grew up in and its changing identity.”

“We’re delighted that Matthew’s artwork will be seen by so many who drive past the billboard and the collaboration with Spaghetti Factory has given him and so many other Sunderland artists a showcase for their talents.

“Matthew has recently been working on ideas of ‘the local’ and seaside towns in the UK. 

He blurs the boundaries between social history and art, past and present. His work aims to trigger conversations, prompting people to look at a place through a new lens.”


Eve Cromwell explained: 

“We did our first two exhibitions in the Museum – it was a great venue and excellent opportunity to work with an institution that’s a big part of Sunderland’s culture.

For the final exhibition we decided to change up the format a little. Museums and galleries have been closed due to Covid and we wanted to commission a piece that could be viewed by the largest audience possible in a safe way. 

We’ve actually always wanted to do an exhibition on a billboard, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity! 

“We chose Matthew because he’s from Sunderland and has recently been making artwork about the area. 

We’ve been familiar with his work for a little while and we were excited to receive a submission from him when we put out an open call out before the pandemic. 

He uses a lot of bold imagery and word play, so we thought he would be the perfect choice for the billboard!”


Jenny McNamara added: 

“We’ve really enjoyed working with new artists throughout our time with Sunderland Culture.  There is a thriving art scene and it’s exciting to even just get to scratch the surface. 

It’s a shame the pandemic has stopped events and studio visits, but we’d love to continue once we’re back to a bit of normality again. 

Sunderland has a lot to offer and the arts community will continue to expand.”

Matthew’s artwork will be on the Silksworth Row billboard until Monday, May 17.



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