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posted 4 Oct 2011, 02:27 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 5 Oct 2011, 06:31 ]
An exciting new outdoor art exhibition 'Gallery Town' opened in Rotherham town centre on Friday 30th September. 

Over the past few weeks, local company Rainforest Graphics has been busy reproducing up to 60 huge pieces of artwork - including work by Rotherham students, local artists and some of the world's greatest painters - and installing them in key locations around the town.

The artwork is displayed on shops and well known buildings such as Rotherham Market, the Eastwood Building, Pop nightclub, along with several pieces on College Lane, alongside the B&M store and the walkway from Corporation Street through to the town centre Tesco.

The project is the brainchild of a group of local entrepreneurs working alongside the Rotherham LSP (Local Strategic Partnership) Board who came up with the idea as a way to regenerate the town centre, attract more visitors and to help create more trade for local businesses.

Nick Cragg, local entrepreneur and member of the Rotherham LSP Board, who is spearheading the project, said: "You only need to look at places like Bilbao in Spain or Liverpool, where art and culture has helped to regenerate whole cities and really put these places on the map with visitors and shoppers.  The beauty of this exhibition is that it's not elitist art - it's art from all over Rotherham as well as from across the world and it's here for the foreseeable future to be enjoyed by everyone."

He continues: "It was really important to us that we included work by local artists and young people with a talent. We're also hoping it will encourage more community art from outlying areas of Rotherham, which can be included at a later stage as the gallery evolves.  Not only should it help to regenerate the town centre but also give budding artists the opportunity to showcase their work in a highly visual environment that will help them to further their careers."

A number of parties are involved with Gallery Town, including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Welcome to Yorkshire, with the aim that the project will evolve and eventually attract a national, as well as a strong following locally.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "This is just the start of what will be a hugely exciting project for Rotherham, benefiting the local community and giving art enthusiasts from across the county, and the whole of the UK, another reason to visit the town and explore the local area."

A large amount of community art will be on display, which has been selected from an exhibition of local school art inspired by the Local Authority's own ‘Picture This’ project, itself inspired by The National Gallery's Take One Picture initiative. "Look out for the Cross Eyed Tiger!" and a piece by a Primary pupil from Swinton that belies her age.

Schools exhibiting include St Bernard's Catholic High School, Thornhill Primary, Kiveton Park Infant School, Monkwood Primary, Abbey Special School and Swinton Queen Primary School, as well as a number of pieces supplied by students at Rotherham College.

Local artists who have contributed their work include Chris Bird, Zahir Rafiq, Leslie R Black, Sara Platt, Nigel Senior, Bernadine Stocks and Daniel Barnett. These local works will be featured alongside pieces by Monet, Da Vinci, Cezanne, Henry Moore, Van Gogh and Rousseau, to name but a few. The art has been carefully selected on two main themes - human form and landscapes through the ages, with unique zones running through the town centre.  

In an interesting twist to the exhibition, Ben Kealey, keyboard player with chart topping band Kasabian, is donating one of his very own "urban pianos", which will form an integral part of a shop window display within the town centre.  A contemporary artist in his own right, Ben was delighted to be invited to exhibit and showcase his work away from the band.

There are plans to introduce official tour guides to the artwork in the town centre and these will be available to be downloaded from the Gallery Town website. Public consultations will be held to decide which other pieces of artwork local people would like to see reproduced when the display is reviewed and updated in Spring 2012.

For more information, visit the website