A NEW gallery space has been unveiled within Durham’s Gala Theatre.

Following on from a number of temporary exhibitions in 2017, the former TIC space at the theatre has been transformed into a gallery set to showcase modern and contemporary art by local, regional, national and international artists.

The first exhibition, which features the work of children from primary schools, nursery schools and childcare providers across the east of the county, has been launched and will run until the end of the month.

An exhibition featuring the work of French painter, sculptor and designer Henri Mattise will then open on Saturday, February 17.

Matisse – Drawing with Scissors, a Hayward Touring Exhibition, features 35 posthumous prints of the iconic cut-outs produced by the artist in the last four years of his life.

Lucy Jenkins, visual arts manager at Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted the Gala gallery has now opened and it is fitting that the first exhibition features the work of young people from our county.

“It was great to see so many people enjoying the space on its launch night and we are confident that the upcoming programme will attract many more visitors to the venue.”

The early years project currently in the gallery space is the culmination of a project titled ‘Get into the Light’ which was inspired by Durham County Council’s campaign to shine a light on all that’s great about the county.

Pupils from eight schools and settings were involved in the project, spending time at Easington Barn, an arts and education centre set in 30 acres of wildflower meadows close to Hawthorn Dene.

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is a stunning exhibition of the amazing work that young children can enjoy and accomplish.

“Congratulations to our young artists, scientists, potters and naturalists. They shine and have made our county shine.

“Our parents, staff, artist/educator and councillors are all proud of them and we would encourage everyone to take time to visit – it will be worth it.”

Another exhibition featuring the children’s work is also being held at County Hall.

Both exhibitions feature a number of displays which allow visitors to use a QR app on their smartphones to view a series of short films around the project, while Gala also includes a 20-minute film on loop showing the activities children enjoyed while at the barn.

Ten pupils from each of the following eight schools and nurseries were involved in the project: Horden Nursery School; Our Lady of The Rosary Primary, Peterlee; Rosemary Lane Nursery School, Easington; Seaham Harbour Nursery School; Sunshine Day Nursery at Seascape Children’s Centre, Peterlee; Tots R Us Nursery, Seaham; Westlea Primary and Wingate Nursery School.

The gallery is open between 10am and 8.30pm Monday to Saturday and between 2.30pm and 8.30pm on Sunday. All exhibitions are free.