Exhibition will celebrate 40 years of punk rockers The Toy Dolls

A new exhibition will celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of Sunderland and South Tyneside’s most memorable bands The Toy Dolls.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 6:26 pm
The Toy Dolls in their heyday

Known for their lively performances, the punk rockers formed in 1979 and rose to fame with hit track Nellie the Elephant in the early ‘80s, the video for which was filmed in a former town house in Norfolk Street, Sunderland.

In recent years, that building has been transformed into arts studios run by MBC Arts Wellbeing which will stage an exhibition which marks four decades of the band.

A ceramic Toy Dolls mask, guitar and sunglasses will feature in exhibition The Uncanny, which also looks at the colourful history of the building in Sunniside. Next week’s display coincides with the launch of book A House in Context 31 Norfolk Street.

The Olga mask created for the exhibition

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Artist Sarah Robson created the Toy Dolls pieces after being asked to contribute to the book and created her own project entitled Toy Doll Adventures.

She said: “We have the Mayor and Mayoress opening our event also with hopes of having a couple of former band members visiting too who have been fantastic in helping, not only with my Toy Doll Adventures, but with giving up their time to give me as much information as possible on their old rehearsal space.”

Dating back to the 1840s, the listed building has played a colourful role in the city’s history. It originated as a base for building societies in the then town and was built in a neo-classical style with grand arches and hand-painted sandstone plaster to look Roman-esque. In the last century it became a house of temperance in the 1940s and its basement was used as a practice room by The Toy Dolls.

Last year the building was bought by artist Mark Burns Cassell who ploughed tens of thousands of pounds transforming it into a space for artists’ studios and workshops such as batik, life drawing ceramics and more.

Artist Sarah Robson photographed by Ian Stafford

The launch will be taking place from noon until 2pm on Wednesday, October 16 at 31 Norfolk Street and all are welcome to attend.