Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Picasso and Da Vinci in residence to regenerate Rotherham

Picasso and pals to star in Rotherham

Rotherham, whose recent headline grabbing initiatives include mums defying Jamie Oliver’s healthy eating regime by selling fast food through the school railings, is shrugging off its junk food associations and moving into the art world by re-launching itself as an open air gallery.

The south Yorkshire town is undergoing a visual transformation as over 60 pieces of artwork by local, national and world renowned artists are being reproduced on a grand scale – some 4m by 8m – and displayed on the side of buildings in over 35 town centre locations. Plans are for the gallery to be in place for a number of years with art trails being distributed in the local tourism information centre.

The initiative is the brainchild of the local business community who wanted to encourage more visitors to Rotherham to help regenerate the town centre and drive the local economy. A similar scheme ran in York a few years ago to critical acclaim.

The first installations from local artists have been going up this week and will sit alongside famous works by Picasso, Da Vinci, Cezanne, Castleford's-own Henry Moore, Van Gogh and Rousseau as well as works by local schools.

Nick Cragg, local entrepreneur and chair of the Rotherham Economy Board, who is spearheading the project, said: “Rotherham will be one of the first towns in the UK to have its own open air art gallery which is fantastic news and will help to play an important part in its regeneration and further economic growth. The pieces have been carefully selected so that we could exhibit works of world renowned masters, whilst providing a platform for Rotherham’s own artists, as well as local young people to display their work.”

He added: “Like all good galleries, this one will evolve and we hope to add new artwork in spring next year, with the project having secured funding to run for at least 18 months. We are hoping further private sponsorship will mean it can run for many years to come.”

The organisers have already partnered with some heavyweight art allies, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Gallery up the road in neighbouring Bretton and Wakefield as well as the National Gallery and will consult with the public on what other pieces of artwork local people would like to see reproduced when the display is reviewed and updated in spring next year.

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