People Powered: 
Stories from the River Tees

A figure stands on a walkway next to a river Paul Smith, Maxïmo Park, 2023, © Gilmar Ribeiro

Past national and international programme archive
22 July - 22 December 2023

MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Centre Square, Middlesbrough TS1 2AZ

People Powered: Stories from the River Tees is a new exhibition in partnership with Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) and the National Portrait Gallery. Alongside works from the National Portrait Gallery collection with connections to the city and the River Tees, the exhibition showcases a number of new commissions. These include works by local artists such as young people from the National Saturday Club in collaboration with artist Bobby Benjamin; pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in collaboration with artist Diane Watson and a series of river portraits created with photographer and story catcher Gilmar Ribeiro. It also includes new works from The Club, a group of elders working with artist to produce new artworks for the MIMA shop.

On the 22 July from 11:00-15.30 MIMA will be hosting a family and friends day of making, tours and exploring to launch the new exhibition.

Photographer Gilmar Ribeiro’s photographic series River Portraits were captured at Navigation Lock, Tees Barrage. MIMA and Ribeiro invited people who work, rest and play by the river’s watery paths to have their spirit captured and their stories collected.

The River Portraits present the energy of those people met so far on the project, which is still developing as MIMA and Ribeiro continue to explore and investigate the river and the friends they are yet to meet in connection with it.

People Powered: Stories from the River Tees is funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund

From the exhibition

Black and white photo of a man in a crowd standing with his arms crossed
Brian Clough, by Tommy Hindley, 1980s, NPG x200044, © Professional Sport

Brian Clough by Tommy Hindley

Brian Howard Clough OBE (1935–2004), was an English football player, manager and one of the Football League’s highest goal scorers.

Clough, one of nine children, was born in Grove Hill, Middlesbrough. In 1946 he failed his 11-plus school examination, admitting that he had neglected his lessons in favour of sport.

Clough played as a striker for both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, scoring 251 league goals in 274 matches. He retired from playing football aged 29 following a serious injury.

Brian Clough began his managerial career in 1965 with Hartlepool United, becoming the youngest manager in the Football League at the time aged only 30.

He moved to manage Derby in 1967 and in 1975 to manage Nottingham Forest, where he gained acclaim for leading the team as winners of the First Division title the season after being promoted from the Second Division, as well as two successive European Cup wins in 1979 and 1980, and four League Cup wins.

Clough was awarded Manager of the Year in 1978 and an OBE for his Services to Football in 1991.

Following his death in 2004, a stretch of the A52 connecting Derby and Nottingham was renamed Brian Clough Way. Statues of his likeness have been erected at Albert Park, Middlesbrough, King Street and Queen Street Junction, Nottingham and Pride Park, Derby.

Maxïmo Park by Christopher Owens

Maxïmo Park are an English rock band formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2000 by guitarist Duncan Lloyd, who studied Fine Art at Northumbria University. In 2003 frontman Paul Smith joined the band.

Paul Smith grew up in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, attending Northfield School, Cleveland College of Art and Design in Hartlepool and Newcastle University. Paul briefly taught Art at Stockton Riverside College before joining Maxïmo Park.

Smith joining Maxïmo Park as the frontman allowed previous singers Tiku and Lloyd to focus on song writing. In 2004 the band released a 7” red vinyl single, funded by a friend and recorded in Lloyd and English’s flat in Fenham, Newcastle, featuring the songs Graffiti and Going Missing. A second 7” featuring The Coast Is Always Changing and The Night I Lost My Head was also released in that same year. Steve Beckett of Warp Records signed the band after hearing one of these records.

Their first album, A Certain Trigger, was released in 2005 selling over 300,000 copies and landing a Mercury Prize nomination.

The band have since released six more studio albums and have toured the world.

Five young men dressed in black and white
Maximo Park, by Christopher Owens, 2007, NPG x131070, © Christopher Owens.
Pictured left to right: Archis Tiku, Lukas Wooller, Paul Smith, Tom English and Duncan Lloyd.
A woman with light skin and hair, in a purple blouse and jeans smiling at the camera
Adele Parks, by Sam Holden, 8 June 2010, NPG x134181, Image copyright:

Adele Parks by Sam Holden

Adele Parks MBE was born on 12 February 1969, in Teesside. She is one of the bestselling authors of women’s fiction in the UK, with more than four million books sold. Her debut novel, Playing Away, was released in 2000.

Parks explores concepts of family, love, parenting and fidelity within her novels and is known for her honest, humorous and up-front writing style. With a hugely successful writing career, her novels have been translated into 31 languages.

In 2022 Adele Parks was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for Services to Literature. Parks was also awarded an honorary Doctorate from Teesside University in 2009 and the University of Leicester in 2023.

As an ambassador of the National Literacy Trust and the Reading Agency, she passionately believes that reading is a basic right.

About People Powered

People Powered is National Portrait Gallery partnership project takes a look at some of the individuals involved in our important industries and celebrates the local that keeps our national exports thriving. Produced in collaboration with 5 partners; Brent Museum and Archives, University of Hertfordshire and Elstree Screen Arts Academy, University of West London, Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art with Teesside University in Teesside. Young people, from each location, have captured oral histories either through filmmaking or photography, supported by an experienced artist. In doing so they have uncovered previously hidden stories and shared the lived realities of their local industries, highlighting significant figures who have made an impact. Each location has created exhibition displays that combine local and national collections along with newly created content open to the public. Local primary schools have been invited to explore place making and storytelling through local faces either in the display or in workshops at their schools.

Find out more about other People Powered projects