The artist behind the world-famous image of the Tyneside 'Gadgie' is working on a commission to mark the opening of a new dining quarter in central Newcastle's premier shopping centre – and, in the process, raising funds for two local organisations close to his heart.
Alexander Millar, whose nostalgic, humorous depictions of the flat-capped, dark-suited working man of Tyneside have catapulted him to fame and fortune, is producing two new creations to coincide with the opening this autumn of a £25M restaurant development at intu Eldon Square.
The first of the new works, which reflect on the theme of family togetherness in the North-East, will take up permanent residence on the dividing shutter at one of the entrances to the new intu Eldon Square dining area, with the original oil painting of the image being auctioned to the general public with the proceeds being divided between The Globe Gallery and The Bubble Foundation. Another original oil painting donated by Alex will be on wall-mounted display in intu Eldon Square.
The artist chose both local organisations to benefit from the auction as they occupy special places in his heart.
The Globe Gallery (www.globegallery.org) is a not-for-profit arts organisation in Newcastle that receives no public funding and which is involved currently in the innovative Blossom Tree initiative, supporting those going through anxiety, bereavement and mental health issues. The artist himself experienced depression in his younger days.
The Bubble Foundation (www.bubblefoundation.org.uk), meanwhile, of which the artist is a patron, works within the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle to save the lives of babies born without immune systems. Alexander was introduced to the foundation by its President, the much-loved This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson, who died earlier this year.
The artwork to be auctioned entitled ‘Lollipops and 99s’ is an original oil (400cm x 200cm) and will be available to view at Globe from 14 October. On Thursday 27 October a selling exhibition – entitled A Slice of Life - of brand new work from Alexander Millar will run at The Globe Gallery until mid December. A Slice of Life is sponsored by intu Eldon Square.
Alexander said: “I was thrilled to be approached by intu Eldon Square with the idea of creating an image for the divider between the centre and the new restaurant quarter – and the fact that I was able to involve both The Bubble Foundation and The Globe Gallery makes this project even more special.
“My dear friend Denise Robertson invited me to be a patron of The Bubble Foundation, and it’s an essential charity that that requires all the support it can get. The Globe Gallery is a highly respected organisation that is currently involved in the innovative Blossom Tree initiative, supporting those going through anxiety, bereavement and mental health issues.
“Before my career took off I was a victim of depression and so I feel very strongly about supporting this campaign.
“I’m also delighted to be unveiling a new exhibition of work at The Globe in October - the first exhibition of new work in the North-East since my inaugural show at The Great North Museum in 2010 (Working Man).”
Phil Steele, general manager of intu Eldon Square, added: “It’s a joy to work with Alex on this commission and exhibition, that we are proud to support. I’m a huge fan of Alexander’s work. He has a unique style that really captures the essence of the working man and his family, enjoying a life full of love and with a fundamental appreciation for the important things in life – family, dogs and NUFC! His popularity knows no bounds and we are hopeful that the auction goes really well as a fundraiser for both The Bubble Foundation and The Globe Gallery. We're also delighted to be sponsoring Alex's new exhibition, A Slice of Life at the Globe Gallery.
"Our new restaurant dining area will be open until late, so evening visitors will be able to enjoy the new commission on the dividing shutter, which will be revealed every evening once the wider shopping centre has closed."
Rashida Davison, Director of The Globe Gallery, Newcastle, commented:
“We are honoured that Alex has chosen Globe Gallery, not only to house the work for auction at Globe so that the public can come and view the work – but also that we are to run his first exhibition in the region for 6 years showing much of his new work, as well as many of his famous gadgie paintings which will be available to buy.
Delighted to be partnering with intu Eldon Square for what is going to be an exciting collaboration and we are truly grateful for their support. We have been neighbours for many years, and it’s great to be able to finally work with one of the most iconic organisations in the heart of the city.”
Fundraising Manager Gill Johnston from The Bubble Foundation said: “We are delighted that our Patron Alexander has donated this newly commissioned work to raise much needed funds for the Bubble Foundation. This will enable us to continue our lifesaving work taking place the Great North Children’s Hospital.”
Globe Gallery's opening hours are Wednesday – Saturday 1pm – 7pm. Entrance is FREE.