St Cuthbert's Final Journey

Following 9th century monks as they flee from invading vikings with the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels – and undertake a momentous journey that helps shape England

A Travelling Exhibition – taking St Cuthbert around the North East

A month and a half into 2014 and the journey that Paul Alexander Knox and I made almost a year ago lives on, not only in our hearts but also in Paul’s photography and my words. Our original plan for 2014 may have been a bit far-fetched, but it was funding limitations that put paid to it, rather than a change of mind. Driving a mobile library (with our exhibition inside) back around the route we took last April, following the monks of Lindisfarne with the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels, would have been great fun. Of course, a mobile library might have struggled up some of those hills in the Lake District and North Yorkshire, so I’m sure things turned out for the best.

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

But as it happens, there is a mobile element to our exhibition. Thanks to the Society of Chief Librarians North East and the Arts Council our exhibition, Retraced: St Cuthbert’s Final Journey, is touring around eleven North-East libraries for a month at a time, with Paul and I delivering a photography and creative writing workshop in each location.

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

January saw our exhibition at the lovely library inside Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

Currently, because of lack of exhibition space, we have a specially designed but rather large pop-up exhibition at Middlesbrough Central Library throughout February.

If you’re interested in seeing our exhibition this coming year or signing up for a photography and/or creative writing workshop, then here’s the rest of the tour:

7th – 26th March, Newcastle City Library

2nd – 27th April, Stockton Library

2nd May – 1st June, South Shields Central Library

2nd – 30th June, North Shields Library

July – Sunderland Library

August – nowhere, because Paul’s off to America to make new photographic work

September – Hexham Library

October – Hartlepool Library

November – Gateshead Library

December – Darlington Library

And, as an added bonus, we’ve got some funding to print copies of a book too, so by the end of April we should have some beautiful books to give to the libraries and those that helped us with the whole project. And while we’re on that topic – a massive thank you to Sue Sneyd and Mark Freeman from Stockton Library for all their work applying for and setting up this year’s exhibition tour and workshops.

The workshops at Bishop Auckland received good reviews from those that attended and we’re looking forward to continuing these elsewhere. I’m going to leave this post with a poem from Alison Carr, who was inspired to write poetry by our exhibition at Bishop Auckland and kindly sent some of her writing to me. If anyone else is inspired by Paul’s photography or my words then please feel free to send your work in too.

Before I go, I’d like to say thanks to all those who’ve followed and visited this blog. The response has been wonderful. Naturally, Paul and I are now turning our energies towards other creative projects. Paul has already had a magnificent exhibition at Side Gallery, Newcastle, and is now working on other endeavours, while I’ve turned back to my third book (or perhaps I should say fourth) ‘Swallows and Black Streams’, which I’m hoping to finish this year and am very excited with.

Please feel free to follow my personal blog at or view Paul’s brilliant and very diverse photography at There will be much more work from both of us on these sites over the coming year(s).

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

I’ll leave you with one of the poems Alison Carr wrote inside our exhibition space at Bishop Auckland…


Travel to Journey

Spinning back the yarn of life

The pages torn out

History’s hooded prayers – wisdom’s gasp

So many decades, centuries ago

Since the blowing grass, the tracks

Travel to unravelling, disappearing years, ages

So long ago time walled up priories

Yesterday’s ages, pages

Rage of man, sworn to God, to the purity

Of life’s rich tapestry

Walking through the ages, to the distance

Carrying the prayers

Tasting the words

Tangling with the wind, raucous neglect

Travelling to record, remind, recall, reflect

A man, a journey, seeking sanctuary

A monk, a haven, sanctuary’s walked path

Travel to – unravelling buried deep years

The length and breadth of land

Alison Carr

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

Photography © Paul Alexander Knox

7 comments on “A Travelling Exhibition – taking St Cuthbert around the North East

  1. John Woodhurst
    February 17, 2014

    Absolutely amazed, but not surprised, that your travelling exhibition fails to feature anything of North Northumberland – the heart of Cuthbert, his legacy and his meaning for today. Usually don’t respond to emails but this is so blindingly obvious just had to pass comment. Good luck in all your venues, most of which have little or nothing to do with Cuthbert!   Regards   John W.

    • richardwhardwick2013
      February 17, 2014

      Thanks for your comment John. As mentioned in the post, our original intention was to take the exhibition back through the same journey, from Lindisfarne west, including much of Northumberland and what is now Southern Scotland, all the way south to Merseyside, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cleveland to Durham. Unfortunately, funding doesn’t work that way. The only way we could get funding for this was to accept the offer that came from North-East libraries, which included Hexham as their Northumberland location.

      I presume you are a North Northumberland lad? Though of course I could have presumed wrong. I understand why you claim this beautiful part of the world as the “heart of Cuthbert” and his legacy, I wouldn’t disagree with that, but I imagine Melrose in Scotland and Durham also would want to claim some of the “meaning”.

      And as for the venues that have “little or nothing to do with Cuthbert”, well I don’t think Cuthbert himself would agree there. They were all part of ancient Northumbria and some were important Christian locations. Hartlepool was important, South Tyneside and North Tyneside too. His body was said to have rested at Darlington. Cuthbert was passionate in spreading the word to locations that others wouldn’t go to, locations that others thought were not important or part of the establishment. Cuthbert is the patron saint of the North and in my opinion should be patron saint of England. I think he would be proud of us going to locations that others thought too far away. And the libraries and people we’ve met at Bishop Auckland and Middlesbrough have been delighted to receive us and hugely interested in not only the exhibition but also the stories about Cuthbert.

      Of course I would have loved to have taken this exhibition back to North Northumberland. Perhaps we still can! I’m all for reaching out to communities that feel they may not get the credit and support they deserve. After all, I live in South East Northumberland, which most people feel is not even part of “proper Northumberland” at all.

  2. Heather Martin
    February 22, 2014

    I’m so glad that your amazing journey is back on the road again! it’s wonderful that you and the creativity that you and Paul put into this project are inspiring others.
    I doubt that I’ll manage to catch the exhibition but you never know!
    Any chance it could come north of the Border – perhaps to Melrose/Old Melrose? It’s not a place St. Cuthbert’s body came to but, of course, it’s where St. Cuthbert entered his first monastery. You could even go the ‘whole hog’ and try along the whole of the St. Cuthbert’s Way. I know, funding is always an issue.
    May both you and Paul continue to enjoy success with your new projects.

  3. richardwhardwick2013
    February 22, 2014

    Thank you Heather – I would love it to come north of the border. Melrose was a lovely place to visit (apart from the fish and chips) and so were Dumfries and Galloway. Personally, I love the border country on both sides. St Cuthbert’s Way would be great as well. My wife and I are thinking of walking it in a few years. Take lots of care and thanks for your enthusiasm

  4. McEff
    February 26, 2014

    Hi Richard. Thanks for posting this information. I’m not waiting until December to catch the exhibittion in Darlington – I shall drive a bit further afield and see it sooner.
    Best of luck with your project, Alen McF

    • richardwhardwick2013
      February 27, 2014

      Thanks Allen, much appreciated comment from my favourite blogger! The exhibition spaces in libraries differ hugely mind you. Darlington should be a good space, as should Gateshead. Others will probably be smaller, still great, but not as big…

  5. Pingback: Paul Alexander Knox – A Pilgrimage of Dismantled Railways

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