Skip to main content

University of Sunderland students and graduates joined glass artists Matt Durran and Helen Pailing for the Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge, bringing together recycling, art – and Roker Pier & Lighthouse.

The Glass Heap Challenge was a free event, giving members of the public the chance to watch artists explore the creative potential of salvaged glass and clay from National Glass Centre.

Helen Pailing, who is studying for her PhD in Glass and Ceramics, led the project for the University of Sunderland.

Helen said:  “It’s appropriate that we will be creating work at Roker for the Glass Heap Challenge, as the restoration of Roker Pier and Lighthouse was really the catalyst for this. Lots of students have already been involved in projects in response to the restoration and I’ve made artwork out of the old floorboards from the lighthouse.”

The idea of the Glass Heap Challenge, as conceived by Matt Durran, is to challenge the creativity of artists, designers and glass protagonists to find and demonstrate unique, creative and inspiring works which show ways to utilize stockpiled waste glass.

The Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge was funded by the University of Sunderland Development Trust Silver Fund with support from AHRC CDT and Heritage Lottery Fund (Roker Pier & Lighthouse Project).

The event has grown out of the Roker Pier and Lighthouse student project, developed in tandem with the Heritage Lottery Funded Roker Pier and Lighthouse project.

Picture credit Helen Pailing. You can see more pictures at Helen’s Twitter @HelenPailing.

Close Menu


Coming to visit?
Our office is in the Adventure Sunderland Building next to Fausto on Marine Walk about 30 metres from the end of the pier. But volunteers are only based there to meet visitors on tour days, so to contact us at other times please email

If you’re using satellite navigation our address is
Adventure Sunderland, 
Marine Walk,

Contact us: