Holy Trinity Church

‌‌‌'Gogmagog - The Voices of the Bells'

Artist: Matt Stokes

Holy Trinity is an impressive, eighteenth century Grade I listed church located in an historic area of Sunderland. The church is under the care and management of the Churches Conservation Trust. No longer used for regular worship, Holy Trinity is in the process of being developed as an important new creative venue for Sunderland.

The construction of Holy Trinity Church in 1719 marked the forging of Sunderland as a city. Originally at the heart of the busy port it played an important role in the community life of the area. As well as providing religious services the church also once housed the Town Hall and Magistrate’s Court, Sunderland’s first public library and even at one point the local fire service. Although once at the heart of Sunderland, Holy Trinity’s place changed as the centre of the city shifted to the west.

The exterior of the church reflects the transition between Queen Anne style and early Georgian architectural taste. Inside the church there is an elaborate font and a rather grand memorial to the Reverend Robert Gray (d. 1835) who was known for his work with Sunderland’s poor. In the entrance porch there is also a plaque commemorating local sailor Jack Crawford, known as the ‘Hero of Camperdown’ for his brave efforts at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 when the English fleet defeated a Dutch fleet. Above the main part of the church there is a wooden gallery, the choir vestry and the old library which still has its original Georgian desks and bookcase.

For his commission, Matt worked with local musicians, singers, choirs and bell ringers to produce a new sound work based on the social history of the building and an original bell peal composition first performed at Holy Trinity Church in 1898.

'Gogmagog - The Voices of the Bells' was open on Saturdays and Sundays at Holy Trinity Church from 7 July to 23 September 2018. 

Full details of Matt's composition and all the muscians and participants involved in the project are given in the Gogmagog Handbill. For more about the background research that went into Matt's commission, visit his project blog.

Matt Stokes is an artist whose works begin with an immersive research process that explores the history and social structures of the place he is working in, resulting in the production of films, installations and events. These outcomes hold collaboration at the centre of both their formation and philosophy, often being made directly with people from the communities they are celebrating. Stokes has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Matt's Gallery (London), CAAC (Seville, Spain), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), Kunsthalle Fridericianum (Kassel, Germany) and De Hallen (Haarlem, Netherlands). He is represented by Workplace Gallery, London/Gateshead and Markus Lüttgen, Cologne.

Gogmagog Handbill