Ivan gets his own public art gallery
Morpeth’s only public art gallery has been unveiled in the unlikely setting of a town centre pedestrian alleyway.
Local artist Ivan Webley has been commissioned by Morpeth Chamber of Trade to paint seven large framed pictures of scenes around the town, to hang in the Old Nag’s Head Yard linking Newgate Street with the Back Riggs’ bus station and Sanderson Arcade.
The paintings depict a bird’s eye view of the Town Hall and Market Place on market day; Carlisle Park; the Hundred Steps
overlooking the town above the Park’s paddling pool and bowling green; Oldgate and Chantry Bridges; and the River Wansbeck as its runs along Lady’s Walk in the High Stanners.
The largest of the paintings of the Old Nag’s Head measures eight foot by four foot while the other six are slightly smaller.
As an adopted Morpethian – ‘I’ve only lived and worked in the town for 34 years’ – Ivan says he is proud and honoured to have his work going on permanent public display.
“It has been a very special labour of love for me because I am so fond of the town,” he said.
For many years Ivan taught art and other subjects at King Edward VI Grammar School, and held the post of Deputy Head
Community before he retired 10 years ago.
It took him more than six months to paint the pictures on plywood and as he says: “It offered me a wonderful opportunity to make a statement about my feelings for Morpeth.”
All the scenes are his own choice and were selected to show different aspects of the town. “I just hope people enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them,” he added.
The idea of commissioning some artwork to brighten up what had become a dark and dingy alleyway leading to and from Newgate Street, originally came from local traders led by Chamber of Trade chairman John Beynan.
New and improved lighting has also been installed and the project was supported by County Councillors Andrew Tebbutt and David Moore using some of their councillors ward allowances.
“Ivan has done just what we wanted him to do and that is turn what was an unwelcoming but important link into Newgate Street, into what is in effect a public art gallery with seven wonderful paintings of the town,” said John Beynon. “We are sure his work will be admired by local residents and visitors to the town and become a talking point among them for many, many
years, thereby helping traders by drawing more people into Newgate Street.”