Art lovers in Middlesbrough are in for a treat as a brand-new exhibition space prepares for its grand opening in Hillstreet.
Pineapple Black will make its debut on Friday, January 18 and will take over the former New Look unit.
Creative duo Stephen Irving (37) and Bobby Benjamin (35) are the brains behind the new initiative, which provides a space for local, national and international artists to showcase their work through a series of exhibitions.
“Pineapple Black goes beyond the traditional gallery,” Stephen explains.
“Each area of the unit will be utilised differently. The changing rooms will form a separate exhibition space that artists can rent out and the window display will also run independently, changing every couple of weeks to keep people interested.
“There will be various workshops going on throughout the week for anyone who would like to have a go at art and we have also offered the space out to local organisations that run things like children’s messy play.
“Community centres are continuing to die out and we wanted to create a usable space that is available for all. We are currently in the process of applying for Arts Council funding so that we can open three to four times a week.”
Pineapple Black is the pair’s first joint venture. The unit is currently being managed by East Street Arts, a charity that takes over empty buildings and hands them over to artists for various projects.
Pineapple Black’s open evening will feature 13 artists and guests can expect a broad range of art from photography and painting to light installation.
Bobby said: “What’s great about this space is that it offers a real mix. From student artists to established curators there will be something for everyone, with art ranging from contemporary to more accessible pieces.
“You don’t need an art degree to enjoy what we have to offer. Anyone can wander in, whether it be an exhibition evening or a daytime workshop, and they are guaranteed to find something they will enjoy.”
More than 260 people have expressed their interest in attending the event so far, which will run from 6pm to 9pm, Friday 18. Guests can also expect a live DJ and refreshments.
Peter Drabble, centre manager at Hillstreet, said: “It is a fantastic use of a unit, which offers something unique for our visitors and will no doubt bring further footfall to Hillstreet.
“The window display creates great aesthetics for the front of the centre and we have noticed customers taking a real interest in the unit’s development since its installation.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone on the evening and I wish everyone involved in Pineapple Black the greatest success.”
For more information, follow @Hillstreetshopping on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and events.