Plater memorial moves a step closer

ARTISTS UNITED ... Alan Plater, above, and Bob Olley, inset.

ARTISTS UNITED ... Alan Plater, above, and Bob Olley, inset.

A PERMANENT memorial to a Jarrow-born writer in his hometown is a step closer to reality after a respected artist expressed interest in the project.

The family of the late Alan Plater want to commission a work to be located at or near his grandfather’s home in the town’s York Street.

Now South Shields-born artist and sculptor, Bob Olley, has thrown his artistic hat into the ring.

Mr Olley – who created the famous ‘Westoe Netty’ painting – is to have discussions with Mr Plater’s London-based widow, Shirley Rubinstein, over what form the memorial should take.

And if the project becomes a reality, it would prove an ideal artistic match.

Later this year, there is to be a revival of Plater’s early masterpiece, the play Close The Coalhouse Door, at the Northern Stage in Newcastle.

A former miner, Mr Olley went to see the original production, inspired by the region’s mining industry, when it was staged more than 30 years ago.

He said: “The memorial is something which intrigues me, and I’ll look forward to talking to his widow to see where we can take this. Hopefully, it can come to fruition.” Meanwhile, Mrs Rubinstein has joined the debate over plans to create another permanent memorial in Jarrow – to William Jobling, the last man to be gibbeted in England.

She revealed that her husband, who died aged 75 in 2010, was fascinated by the Jobling story.

She said: “Alan thought no play could do the Jobling story justice, and he had started an opera based on Jobling’s life story instead.”

And another Jarrow-born playwright and poet, Tom Kelly, has given his backing to the Plater tribute.

He said: “It’s entirely right that the life of Plater should be celebrated, whatever form it should take.

“Probably the best option would be a decorative plaque on the house in York Street where his grandfather lived – if the owner didn’t mind.

“Alternatively, it could be on the corner of the street.”

n Close the Coalhouse Door, first staged in 1968, will be performed at the Northern Stage from April 13 to May 5.

Twitter: @shieldsgazette




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