Art exhibition celebrates 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland alongside South Shields panto

Martin Wray, Colin Salmon and Esen Kaya with some of the Fusion Gallery artwork.
Martin Wray, Colin Salmon and Esen Kaya with some of the Fusion Gallery artwork.

The 150th anniversary of famous novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is being celebrated on and off the stage in South Tyneside.

Pantomime Alice in Wonderland opened yesterday at the Customs House, in South Shields, and the theme is continuing into the venue’s Fusion Gallery.

I’ve been delighted at the passion and professionalism shown by Ocean Arts in preparing for the exhibition.

Esen Kaya, Customs House

An art exhibition, based on Lewis Carroll’s novel, which was partly-penned in South Tyneside, has also gone on display at the Mill Dam venue.

The work was created by Ocean Arts, a community organisation for adults with learning disabilities, which is based at the theatre’s sister venue, The CustomSpace.

The group’s managing director and founder, Martin Wray, said: “We’d completed a few Alice-themed pieces earlier in the year, and then Customs House visual arts curator, Esen Kaya, with whom we’ve worked on a few projects, suggested an Alice exhibition which would tie-in with both the pantomime and the Year of Drawing.

“It’s been a challenge, but one which we’ve embraced.”

Esen added: “I’ve been delighted at the passion and professionalism shown by Ocean Arts in preparing for the exhibition. It hasn’t just been a fun exercise for them, but one which they’ve approached with real purpose, meaning and talent.

“The exhibition gives Ocean Arts artists the opportunity to feel empowered and inspired and they should have a tremendous feeling of achievement.

“From our point of view, it’s great to work with – and help sustain – an important community group.

“The exhibition has created something meaningful for both organisations – which are both passionate about the arts and about changing lives, attitudes and perceptions.”

Colin Salmon, 54, from Boldon Colliery, is one of the artists who has been working on the exhibition.

He said: “It has been hard work, but great fun.

“I’m proud with what we have produced and I hope people enjoy the exhibition and our work.”

The exhibition will be on display in the gallery until January 10.