Sophie Dixon at Grace Darling Museum


Project Info


  • Sophie Dixon


  • Grace Darling Museum
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England

Grace is part of the Meeting Point programme, and will be displayed at Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh, Northumberland from 7 September – 31 October 2021.

Sophie Dixon’s brand-new film installation explores Grace Darling and her historic rescue of nine stranded survivors onboard the shipwrecked SS Forfarshire in 1838 opens at the RNLI Grace Darling Museum on the 183rd anniversary of the rescue. The multi-screen visual installation considers the story of Grace Darling from her childhood, right through to her death in 1842.

A dedicated website for the film installation has also been created.

Sophie Dixon said:

“Grace Darling’s role in the rescue of crew and passengers on board the paddle steamer Forfarshire is known all over the world, but for many people, that’s all they know about her. Inspired by various, often conflicting accounts, ‘Grace’ is a poetic exploration of Grace Darling’s life and the impact of her fame.”

The work has been developed using archival documents and digitised objects from the museum’s collection, as well as letters, factual records and reference photos from the Northumberland and Trinity House Archives.

Visitors will be transported to Grace’s home on Longstone Island where digital reconstructions of items from the museum’s collections will bring her story to life. An original score by musician Kathy Alberici weaves together sounds of the Farne Islands and North East voices.

Marleen Vincenten (Heritage Development Manager at the RNLI Grace Darling Museum) said:

“Sophie’s film will bring a new perspective to the story of Grace Darling and help visitors to our charity’s museum learn more about her as a person.

“A lot of people know about her role in the rescue but they are often less aware of her life before and after that, and the impact that event had on her. It will really help those who know the story well to experience it differently.”

Grace opened at RNLI Grace Darling Museum on Tuesday 7 September and runs until Sunday 31 October 2021.

  • To invite an artist to approach the story of Grace Darling in a different way, looking at elements that may have been hidden before.
  • To encourage staff, volunteers and visitors to look at the existing displays and collection with fresh eyes.
  • Gain confidence in programming exhibitions that are not directly linked to RNLI.
  • See an increase in people who are aware of the museum, outside of the local area.

As participants in the Meeting Point 2018-2019 programme, Grace Darling Museum was supported by Arts&Heritage through a process of sharing knowledge and presenting contemporary art projects and commissions in non-traditional art spaces.

Six museums based in the North were selected for this Meeting Point programme, and took part in a series of training workshops, visits to artists’ studios and meeting peers at other properties, to learn how they successfully delivered contemporary arts projects at their museums and heritage sites. Museums developed their own Artist’s Briefs.

A networking event between the participating museums and 60 artists from across the UK took place at the National Centre for Early Music, York, following which artists were invited to send in an Expression of Interest to museums that interested them.

Four artists were shortlisted by each museum to draw up a more detailed proposal and were paid £500 each to do so.

Grace Darling Museum selected Sophie Dixon for the £11,00 commission in Spring 2019, to produce Grace in Summer 2021 (following delays caused by Covid).

The Artist

Sophie Dixon is a visual artist from the UK. Working across film, 3D technologies, and installation, her projects explore the themes of memory, history, and the boundaries between the real and virtual.