A series of paintings of unknown women have provided the inspiration for a new exhibition set to open in Darlington this month.

The canvases form part of Darlington Borough Council’s art collection and were unearthed by North East curator Michaela Wetherell who launched an appeal asking the public and other artists to help tell the stories of the forgotten women.

‘Tell Her Story’, which opens at Crown Street Art Gallery on Tuesday 22 November, will feature the original paintings alongside a series of new artworks created by artists from across the region and beyond.

Michaela explained:

“I wanted to look at the Darlington art collection in a different way and show people that you can look at art differently, without knowing any information about it.

“My aim was to find women in collections and exhibit them, but I found something more fascinating – a whole series of paintings that either had no date, no known artist or no known subject.

“Working with some very talented artists we’ve created an exhibition that focuses on the forgotten or unknown. We’ve also been able to get the public involved in telling the stories of these women while also showcasing some of the talents the North East has to offer.”

The project has been supported by Creative Darlington and the Arts Council England and features the work of artists Alyson Agar, Mircea Cirtog, Sarah Cooney, Norma Kylem Tallulah Lines, James Quinn, Jonnny Lancaster, Helen Steel and Helen Winthorpe Kendrick.

Michaela added:

“It’s been a dream come true working on this project. I want to focus my career as a curator on highlighting the incredible talents the North East has to offer.”

Stephen Wiper, Creative Darlington manager, said:

“Michaela is a new curator and it’s great that she has developed her practice in Darlington. Tell Her Story encouraged artists to create original work reflecting on pieces held in the Borough art collection.

“Exhibiting new and old work side by side will create an original exhibition and encourage visitors to take a fresh look at the Borough art collection, which is something we are keen to explore more in the future.”

‘Tell Her Story’ will run from Tuesday 22 November until Thursday 12 January. For more information about the gallery and Creative Darlington, log onto the website atwww.darlington.gov.uk/creativedarlington.