REAL LIFE: Matthew Read, director of the Bowes Centre for Art Craft and Design, aims to expand on a still life exhibition to include real life – in the form of stories from traders on Barney’s weekly Wednesday market
REAL LIFE: Matthew Read, director of the Bowes Centre for Art Craft and Design, aims to expand on a still life exhibition to include real life – in the form of stories from traders on Barney’s weekly Wednesday market

TRADERS on Barnard Castle’s weekly Wednesday market could find themselves at the centre of a new exhibition run by The Bowes Museum.

The brainchild of the Matthew Read, director of the Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design, he said the idea was to combine still life and real life.

Mr Read said it was part of ongoing efforts to create closer links between the museum and the town.

He explained: “We have got a world class collection of still life – whether oil paintings or ceramics.

“Our sponsor at the Bowes centre said let’s have a still life exhibition. We asked how is that going to work in a wider context?”

He said the idea was to talk to the market traders and hear the stories they have to tell, in some cases going back generations – sometimes further.

So, for example, while the museum may have a still life painting of asparagus, a fruit and veg stall holder would be able to relate how asparagus plays a part in their business.

“We have got the museum perspective – people on the streets have real life,” said Mr Read.

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“Somebody said the market is one of the oldest. That heritage is older than ours (at the museum). It would be crazy not to link the two.

“We want to talk to the market traders about their stories. Those stories are really interesting.”

Mr Read admitted the project was an experiment which would initially lead to a short exhibition, but if successful it could prompt something bigger.

“It’s a little trial. It will be primarily a social media driven exhibition – hopefully we can get it out to people.”

There is likely to be a photographic element to the project and Mr Read is also considering staging it in either an empty shop unit in the town centre or on a market stall, with the aim of bringing it into the town rather than expecting people to head into the museum.

“Initial reaction was massively positive with the market traders. All those great local stories are of use to us,” he added.

Helping with the project is social media specialist Paula Moore, who has been out talking to traders in the last few weeks.