AN ART gallery that has provided a platform to hundreds of crafts people and artists from across the region has celebrated its 20th birthday.

The Glass and Art Gallery, in Consett, was opened by stained glass artist Maralyn O'Keefe and her husband Ron, initially to display her work and that of other glass artists.

Maralyn said: "On September 9, 1999 Ron and I opened The Glass and Art Gallery’s doors to our first customers.

"We are pleased to say that some of those customers are still shopping with us two decades later. It's the best thing I have done in my life. and so proud that people like what we are doing.

"Looking back on the first day we opened when we had 21 artists’ work in the gallery. A lot has happened over the past 20 years.

"We have extended from a one-room shop to three rooms, we now have almost 200 regional artists on our books and we ourselves have learned so much about art and gift retail.

She added: "It has been a wonderful, huge learning curve as neither of us had worked in retail before. We smile at some of the faux pas of the early years such as on the day we opened we forgot about getting tissue, paper and bags and sent our first few customers home with their purchases from us in a well-known supermarket’s carrier bags."

Maralyn, who has established an international reputation for her work, has done private commissions for a cathedral, churches and schools.