A SCULPTOR is calling for better facilities for artists in County Durham who “don’t just screw their work to walls”.

Alan Yates, from Bishop Auckland, has been a professional sculptor for 52 years, exhibited his work across the UK and in Paris and is a fellow of numerous leading art institutions.

A retired art teacher, the 73-year-old wants to hold a retrospective showing some of his pieces, along with preparatory work, to tell the story of his work over half a century.

But he says a lack of space and facilities for artists who work in mediums such as sculpture, glass and jewellery in his home county has left him frustrated.

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He said: “County Durham seems to have an obsession with screwing artwork to walls, I’ve asked about an exhibition and been told there are no plinths and display cases which many artists need.

“I plan 18 months to two years in advance and would just like a retrospective, maybe even a small exhibition, in my home town or county.

“I have shown all around the country but find it ironic and sad that I cannot do the same here just because of something as basic as facilities.

“I’m told they can borrow or hire plinths and cases but you’d think a county this size could have a few available, in storage, so artists of all mediums, who don't just screw their work to walls, can exhibit here and residents can see their work.

“I don’t think it is too strong to say it is discrimination.

“We have spaces for heritage art but where will the heritage come from in 100 years time if we cannot exhibit our professionals’ work now?"

Mr Yates hopes the county’s bid to be named UK City of Culture in 2025 will act as a catalyst for leading bid partner Durham County Council to identify and address gaps in provision.

He also supports a suggestion that the former DLI Museum in Durham City, which had a first floor gallery, could be reopened as a dedicated arts venue.

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Alison Clark, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “Our galleries have a programme that is planned up to 18 months in advance, where we make display facilities available to host a range of artwork, including sculptures.

"Our current exhibition, Through Soldiers’ Eyes at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, features work in a range of media.

"We also currently have an open call for local artists who can submit their work for exhibition, and we have provided Mr Yates with details and an application form for this.

“County Durham’s bid for UK City of Culture 2025 is about creating more opportunities for people to express their creativity and get involved in cultural activities.

“Improving the cultural infrastructure to allow more opportunities for artists and audiences will certainly be a key part of our planning going forward if we are successful in this bid.”


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