Exhibition comes direct from the north face

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A major exhibition of work by 50 northern-based artists will open at the Gallery at the Storey in Lancaster next week.

The Facing North exhibition showcases the work of a diverse group of artists who first got together in a project commissioned by David Davies and Hannah Smeds-Davies of the Maiden Bridge Art Gallery, in the Tatham Fells.

The artists were asked to produce two works – a self portrait and an example of their more usual work.

The result was the Facing North exhibition which has been updated after touring a number of leading galleries.

The works will be hung in the Gallery and the adjoining Music Room and will give people the chance to see some of the local art talent up close for the first time in Lancaster.

David and Hannah Davies have curated the exhibition with the aim of illustrating a broad selection of the work and the diversity of this group of northern artists.

David Davies said: “It is a unique concept and one of which we are very proud.

“All the artists involved have always wanted to show their works in Lancaster and now they are getting that chance in a wonderful gallery.

“Local people can be justly proud of the Storey and now we hope we can play our part by showing off the collective talent of a fine group of northern artists.”

For one of the Facing North exhibitors, the Storey holds many happy memories.

Bob Armitage not only attended the old Lancaster Art College, but in the late 80s was amongst a group of artists who saved the old Institute building.

At the time the building had been allowed to run down and plans were being considered to turn it into office space or even a hotel.

The ongoing threat to the old building led to the formation of the Friends of the Storey and plans were quickly drawn up to revive the gallery. And thanks to the foresight of Bob and his friends the building was given a new lease of life.

Bob Armitage explained: “We all decided that we were not prepared to see such a fine and historic building go to waste.

“It had been allowed to deteriorate but we saw the potential to develop the old gallery. So we just went ahead and started holding exhibitions.

“We were able to quickly prove that there was a future for the Storey.”

The city council and the government recognised the need to keep the Storey as a creative centre, and in 2004 plans were drawn up for the new Storey to continue a long and distinguished history of a building which at varying times has been a school, an art college a library and a museum.

For many Lancastrians it was best known as the home of the Lancaster and Morecambe Technical College which provided pupils with “skills for the workplace”.

When he left college, Bob spent time in London and teaching in Devon before returning to his native city in 1980. He has since made his mark as an artist and credits the north side of the Bowland hills as his artistic inspiration.

That inspiration is reflected in his work which will be on display at Facing North.

The portraits will be kept as a collection, and all the other work will be available for sale, providing visitors with an opportunity to view and collect the work of 50 of the region’s prominent artists.

The exhibition runs from February 8 to March 9.

It is being supported by Lancaster City Council, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Nice Bar and Restaurant in 
The Storey creative industries centre.