Paint the Town in Sound: Online Exhibition

Welcome to Paint the Town in Sound, an online exhibition exploring the timeless relationship between art and music and the direct links forged between musicians and artists.

The exhibition has been curated in collaboration with Mercury Prize nominated Sunderland band Field Music and takes their own collaborations as a starting point to explore wider themes.

The artworks in Paint the Town in Sound, are drawn from the Arts Council Collection and offer a fascinating insight into the musical heritage of our region providing a route to examine our own cultural identity and its relationship to class, politics and place.

Scroll down to enjoy the exhibition – make sure you hover over each pink square and click to read more – by clicking another page will open, telling you more about each artist and artwork.

You can let us know what you thought of the exhibition by using #PaintTheTownInSound hashtag on social media.


“We all borrow elements of music culture – clothes, hairstyles, language – as a way of expressing ourselves to the outside world. What we choose and why we choose it feels like a fundamental part of human expression.” (Field Music)

Listen to the Paint the Town in Sound Spotify playlist, specially curated by Field Music to accompany the exhibition.


“Pop music can’t really be untangled from pop imagery, and that can blur the lines between fact and fiction. Sometimes we want to be swallowed up by an entertaining vision rather than search for a mundane truth, but perhaps to tell the whole story you need both.” (Field Music)

“In every town and city, there are people putting on gigs, making records, printing flyers, forming collectives and generally putting themselves out in the hope that it’ll lift their community and change things. You might have to dig for it, but it’s there…and that might be where the art is happening.” (Field Music)

“A record sleeve might be the most immediate and effective way a band or singer can say something about themselves. If you put a group of them in chronological order – even if you only have records with a North East association – you get a sense of the sweep of music history – the ebb and flow of the music industry, of musical movements as they come and go, and of fashion.” (Field Music)

Take a closer look at…

The virtual walk through of Paint the Town in Sound by clicking on this link. This virtual experience enables you to explore the physical exhibition as if you were there, at any time, remotely on a digital device

– Experience Turner Prize winning artist Susan Philipsz’ emotive sound installation ‘The Internationale’ (1999) located outside Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens in Mowbray Park on the terrace near Holmeside Coffee. For more information click here.

– The Sunderland Musicians Collective / The Bunker exhibits

Album covers by North East bands

For families:

– Download our Paint the Town in Sound Family Takeaway Pack, inspired by the exhibition and full of artist designed activities, ideas and incredible artworks to help families explore art, music, words and sound at home.


This is the second in our series of Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibitions. Find out more about the programme here.

Main image credit: Evan Ifekoya, The Gender Song, 2014. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © the artist.

Paint the Town in Sound installation views, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, 2020. Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibition © Sunderland Culture. Photos: Colin Davison

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