A POPULAR exhibition exploring men’s voices is returning to south-west Durham. Bishop Auckland-based arts company Changing Relations has announced that Men’s Voices: Stepping Out of the Box exhibition will tour throughout this year.

Thanks to funding from the Northern Heartlands, Awards for All, Arts Council England and Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership, the exhibition will be touring across south-west Durham arts and heritage venues, The Witham, in Barnard Castle, Killhope Lead Mining Museum, in Cowshill, and Locomotion, in Shildon, with a programme of events and workshops.

As part of the relaunch, the exhibition has been renamed Men’s Voices: Stepping Out of the Box, but will continue to explore traditional masculinity, featuring textiles, poetry and sound recordings that consider how destructive social norms shape us and our mental health.

Visitors will be able to discover how local artists broke down barriers with men and boys across the region to explore aspects of masculinity that have been entrenched in this part of the world; with its history of industrial jobs that reinforced gender norms and shaped traditional roles of men and women.

The free exhibition kicks off tomorrow, at The Witham, and will run until February 23.

Building on the exhibition theme, Changing Relations will host a thought-provoking panel talk on Saturday, February 16, at 1.30pm asking How do Gender Norms Impact Mental Health?’

Tickets are £5 and £4 concessions via The Witham box office.

As the tour unfolds, groups of young people from Teesdale School, Wolsingham School, Parkside Academy and King James I Academy will be creating a new body of work together with visual artist and Changing Relations assistant director, Polly Turner and performance poet Tony Gadd – while also being supported by participatory arts experts Helix Arts.

This will be combined with the original exhibition to create Stepping Out of the Box; an expanded artistic exploration of gender norms, additionally reflecting the views of girls, boys and LGBT youth across South West Durham. Details for this final exhibition in September are currently being finalised, so check the Changing Relations website for more details soon.

Audiences have called the exhibition “thought-provoking”, “powerful” and “enlightening”.

The Woodlands School, associate headteacher, Garry Stout said: “The project perfectly captured the need for clear expression in boys and young men.”

For details, visit changingrelations.co.uk; for tickets, call 01833 631107.