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Unusual exhibition venue for artist and strictly fan Bethan

A new art show, which spectacularly celebrates famous figures from the worlds of entertainment and sport, opens this week in an unusual exhibition venue in Middlesbrough.  

For a fortnight artist Bethan Turner’s larger than life portraits will be on view in surroundings familiar to her – the former Boyes store in the Dundas Shopping Centre.

The shop was a regular source of materials for the collages that feature in Bethan’s distinctive paintings which, as well as creating a stunning likeness, tells the story of her subjects.

“If I didn’t have what I needed for a portrait I would dash down to Boyes,” said Bethan who has a studio provided by Navigator North, which is based in Dundas House and supports local artists and community arts projects in the Tees Valley.

Bethan’s work features sports stars such as Sir Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton and Harry Kane and characters and actors from Harry Potter, Disney and Marvel films. She has also painted a number of portraits of the professionals and celebrities who have appeared in Strictly Come Dancing. These include previous winners Jay McGuiness and Louis Smith and dancers Karen Clifton and Natalie Lowe.

“I’m a massive fan of Strictly. I’ve met Jay a few times, he follows me on Twitter and I get some really nice feedback from him,” said Bethan 

“I’m very excited about the exhibition and it’s another opportunity for the public to come and see my work, rather than just looking at it on social media.  You really need to see my portraits close-up to get an idea of the scale, the painted portrait and background as well. Come and have a chat about my work. I’m setting up a mini studio so people can see me paint and watch a portrait develop.”

This exhibition has been initiated by Navigator North – which works in partnership with East Street Arts – to use empty spaces within the Dundas Centre as part of a long running relationship with its owner Contract Experts Limited.

On behalf of Contract Experts Limited, Richard Wilson – senior associate with chartered surveyors and property consultants Dodds Brown – said: “It’s great to be able to provide a showcase for Bethan’s talents and an excellent way to use space, which is empty at the moment, and encourage more people to visit the Dundas Centre.”

Vicky Holbrough, Navigator North Director, said: “We are proud to have worked with and supported Bethan in presenting her work to a public audience and through this exhibition.

“Bethan is one of our most dedicated and prolific studio holders – and has been for the last four years. It is wonderful to see her commitment to her studio practice and the development of her mixed media portraits of inspirational people.

“Working with artists such as Bethan gives us an amazing opportunity to support the development of artists and creative communities as well as showing that Middlesbrough is a place where culture is valued.”

There is a preview of the exhibition from 6.30pm-9pm on Thursday 26 September. It will then be open every day – 10am-4pm Monday to Saturday and 11am-2pm on Sunday – until 13 October.

As well as encouraging people to come and see her paint, there is an opportunity to hear Bethan talk about her work on Saturday 12 October from 2-3pm.  

The Dundas Centre is also one of the venues taking part in this year’s Middlesbrough Art Weekender.

It is hosting the work of North Yorkshire artist Suzie Devey whose Two Tin Cans is said to be the world’s smallest printmaking studio – a red telephone box.

The Art Weekender takes place between the 26 and 29 September and, as well as Suzie, features around 30 artists in the North East’s biggest annual contemporary arts festival.

By Lambert