Gallery offers “Golden Ticket” to own a modern masterpiece…

A gallery showcasing work from some of the region’s best loved artists is offering art lovers the opportunity to win a modern masterpiece of their own.

Mayor Cllr Ian Geldard, with “Retreating Sun” and “Bamburgh Castle”

The Bob Abley Gallery, owned and operated by Spennymoor Town Council, has launched the “Mayor’s Gallery Golden Ticket”, a competition that will see the winner get their hands on a stunning painting by the famed Rocks Bros, twin brothers who hail from the town.

“Retreating Sun”, an oil on canvas depicting clouds gathering over rolling seas, is valued at over £900 and has been donated as the first prize by the brothers, who have a studio in Spennymoor and sell their work across the globe.

The Golden Ticket is the brainchild of Town Mayor, Cllr Ian Geldard, with all proceeds raised from the contest going to his selected charities.

“Spennymoor is so lucky to have the Bob Abley Gallery as a cultural resource,” he said. “It is a hidden gem while wracking our brains to think of ways to bring more people to the gallery, we came up with the idea of the Golden Ticket, which not only helps us showcase the amazing work on display in the Town Hall, it makes it possible for someone to own this incredible piece of work by the Rocks Bros.

“People who know the Bob Abley Gallery, tend to appreciate the fact we are proud to display the largest publicly accessible collection of incredible and emotive work from famed “pitman painter” and son of Spennymoor, Norman Cornish. But what they may not also know is that we have a stunning array of work from the Rocks Bros and around 40 other artists, most of whom are from the area or wider North East.”

The “Mayor’s Gallery Golden Ticket” will see people offered the chance to purchase tickets for £10, 150 of which are available from Spennymoor Town Hall, to be in with a chance of winning “Retreating Sun”; a second prize of “Bamburgh Castle”, a work of oil and pastel by acclaimed painter Walter Holmes; or third prize “Tenderness & Strength”, a charcoal piece by Karen Thompson.

All proceeds raised will be split between three charities, supported by Cllr Geldard throughout his mayoral term. These are the Special Care Baby Units at University Hospital of North Durham and Darlington Memorial Hospital; The Learning Library which loans out specialist equipment, sensory items, toys and games to people who have additional needs; and Moors in the Community, who work with people and groups in the town, focusing on enhancing physical, social and mental wellbeing of children and teens.

Cllr Geldard added: “I can’t thank the Rocks Bros, Walter Holmes and Karen Thompson enough for donating their incredible art to this competition. I genuinely hope we find some art lovers who may not have been able to afford art of this calibre in the past, but by purchasing a Golden Ticket are in with a shout of hanging a real regional masterpiece on their living room wall.

“£10 for a ticket is potentially a great investment, and even if you don’t win, you can be assured that your tenner will be going towards one of three amazing causes dedicated to changing people’s lives for the better.”

As well as the competition, the Mayor and Mayoress will present “An Evening of Norman Cornish and More” on February 23rd, at Spennymoor Town Hall. It will feature a talk from John Cornish, son of the town’s famous artist, and a tour of Cornish’s work displayed in the Bob Abley Gallery.

Gallery interim curator, John Thompson, said he hopes the Golden Ticket and Norman Cornish event will both help bring more people to the venue and help more engage with art. He added: “It’s very rare for a town to boast such a fantastic asset as the Bob Abley Gallery and even rarer for it to house so many amazing works by an array of incredible artists.

“Hopefully, these events will bring a whole new audience to our brilliant gallery and more people will enjoy and purchase some truly spectacular art.”

Winners will be drawn by the Mayor once all 150 of the Golden Ticket have been sold. To purchase tickets for the competition or for “An Evening of Norman Cornish and More” visit Spennymoor Town Council reception in the Town Hall, or contact: 01388 815276 or

The Bob Abley Gallery is free to enter and open seven days a week, with all art on display available to purchase.

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