A temporary art gallery showcasing college students’ work in an iconic Bishop Auckland building has attracted more than 4,000 visitors since it opened in June.

Bishop Auckland College launched the exhibition, called Regenerate, at the Grade II listed building on Newgate Street, previously a house which dates back to c.1800 and which was until around 25 years ago known as McIntyres – a family run shoe and leather goods retailer which had been based there since the early 1920s.

And since the doors opened on June 15th, more than 4,300 people have visited to see the stunning display of work from talented students from the college’s art and photography departments.

The visitors include former industrial engineering and design tutor Ron Rose, who taught at the college between 1964 and 1984. Prior to that he had been a poster writer, painting signs for local shops and businesses by hand.

Ron, of Newton Aycliffe, took early retirement to pursue his love for art and now runs weekly art classes at Newton Aycliffe RAFA Club. He heard about the exhibition via local media and dropped in to introduce himself to art lecturer Julie Scorer, who then invited him in to the college to meet students.

Julie said: “I was delighted when Ron dropped in to the gallery to introduce himself and share some of his fantastic watercolours and pencil drawings with our students. He has had a fascinating career in art going back more than 70 years which he is still passing on to budding artists through his own weekly classes.

“He was clearly impressed with the quality of the artwork and photography on display and the passion and dedication of staff and students who have worked so hard to make the exhibition such a success.”

Since the closure of McIntyres the double fronted premises had been occupied by fashion retailers including Etam and Dorothy Perkins, who vacated the building last October.

Owner Wayne Baister, of Initial Group, agreed to a temporary letting to Durham County Council for use during the Bishop Auckland Food Festival in April while a new retail tenant was found.

Local county councillor Joy Allen was keen to help find other uses for the building, which was listed by Historic England in 1993, while it remained vacant. The idea for the exhibition followed a meeting she had with Bishop Auckland College’s Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova.

‘Regenerate’ is open from Wednesday to Saturday 11am until 3pm and the exhibition ends tomorrow (Friday August 11th) after two final events:

  • Today – Thursday August 10th – 1pm until 3pm – Little Voices Acoustic sing along/music making craft group
  • Friday August 11th – 1pm until 8pm – Late night busking (please make enquiries for a spot via the college’s Facebook page).

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