Studio space is a ‘sanctuary’ for local art

VENTURE ... front, Padma Rao and Ray Spencer, with, middle, Mayor and Mayoress, Coun Ernest Gibson and Patricia Ridley, and project worker Matthew Henderson.
VENTURE ... front, Padma Rao and Ray Spencer, with, middle, Mayor and Mayoress, Coun Ernest Gibson and Patricia Ridley, and project worker Matthew Henderson.
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AN artistic revolution is taking place in a quiet corner of West Park.

A private property has been converted into a gallery space in Talbot Road.

The person behind the initiative is Padma Rao, director of Arts Connect CIC, a new community-led arts organisation.

And the first exhibition in what is called the Kalashram Residency Project is a truly international affair.

The diversity of artists range from Samina Jamshed, of Pakistan, Taiwanese British artist Dr Chun Chao Chiu, Lebanese British artist Lord Richard-Fouad Macleod, and nationally-acclaimed textile artist Ranbir Kaur.

North East artists are also featured, including Miki Z, Kevin Gibson and Matthew Henderson.

Mrs Rao said: “Situated in the heart of the community, the studio looks to bring art, artists and people closer together through creativity. The aim is to make an impact at a social level.”

The project is a series of temporary residencies that reflect the unique work being produced in South Tyneside by Arts Connect.

Kalashram means ‘sanctuary for the arts’, and this involve inviting artists to engage with the local community and create work in response to their experiences in the borough.

The first artist to be taking part in the residency will be Pritika Chowdhry from Minneapolis, USA. Her project will mark the centenary of the First World War in January.

Coun Ernest Gibson, the mayor of South Tyneside, officially opened the project.

He said: “I’ve been impressed with the way Arts Connect is planning to place art at the centre of the community, and give for some people, their first opportunity to experience art. Art can be a simple but effective way of unifying people, and getting them to feel passionately about the place in which they live.”

The Arts Connect CIC studios are open to the public every Tuesday from 11am to 4pm, and for the rest of the week viewings can be made by appointment only.

People interested in learning more about Arts Connect can by e-mailing artsconnect@hotmail.co.uk or by calling 07930 175319.

Twitter:@shieldsgazpaul