The people of South Tyneside are the focus of an new art exhibition that will celebrate the hidden stories of those who live in the borough.
Talented local artist Aidan Doyle has taken up a residency in South Shields Central Library, in Prince Georg Square, where he paints the portraits of members of the local community and listens to their life stories.
The joint art project ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’ started before the New Year and will continue to run over the next few months to produce a number of portraits.
The project is part of the council’s Arts in Libraries project.
People can view the growing collection of portraits each week in the Central Library, which will be accompanied by key aspects of the life stories of those painted.
Customs House executive director Ray Spencer and the council’s senior librarian Julie Robinson have already been painted.
Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “This is a brilliant project that will capture a cross section of the community in South Tyneside to help demonstrate the variety of people who use the borough’s libraries.
“The portraits will take pride of place. Visitors to the Central Library will be able to see the artist capturing on canvas library users while he talks to them about their life in the borough.”
Aidan Doyle said: “Everyone has stories to tell, but very few people get the opportunity to document them for others to enjoy and reflect on.
“It is this concept that inspired the creation of ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’ project.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative initiative and I hope to record as many residents’ anecdotes and memories as I can while working in the Central library painting their portraits.
“I would encourage people visiting the library to get involved and to find out more about this project.
“We hope the array of portraits and local people’s memoirs will add colour to the archives in South Shields’ Central Library.”
The art project will consist of a range of portraits created by using a multitude of techniques from oil painting, pencil and charcoal drawings.
Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer MBE said: “Aidan is a gifted artist who manages to capture the person behind the eyes.
“We all have a story to tell and this exhibition will allow some of those to be told.”