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Poetry, painting and pictures … South Yorkshire talent will be in the frame at Frenchgate as the shopping centre is creating a new cultural exhibition space for Doncaster.

Selected work by local artists and poets will be showcased to visitors in the busy thoroughfare connecting the shopping centre to the town’s train station – which will become ‘The Art Space at Frenchgate’.

The move to create a new cultural hot spot at Frenchgate follows last year’s The Desire Project – an exhibition by Doncaster artist Les Monaghan of near-life size photographic portraits of local people including war hero Ben Parkinson.

‘The Art Space’ will be in an area of Frenchgate which welcomes thousands of travellers and shoppers every year and which hosted an exhibition of Yorkshire fringe art in 2015, brought together by abstract expressionist Neil Rands.

A poetry exhibition, titled ‘These poets, our kin / These poems, our stories’ will now be hosted in The Art Space at Frenchgate and curated by Dan Ryder, a Doncaster-based poet, editor and social media manager at Doncopolitan magazine.

A recent graduate of the Manchester Writing School, Dan Ryder said: “The Frenchgate Centre's decision to present an opportunity of this size to an emerging local creative like myself is really pleasing. At least 15 poets, who all either grew up in the borough of Doncaster or currently call Doncaster home, will feature in the exhibition. 

“The poetry scene in Doncaster is in excellent health due to accessible and engaging creative writing workshops, open-mic nights, and also the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival which returns to Mexborough on June 23 to 25. Former poet laureate Ted Hughes spent his school years and formative years as a poet in Mexborough between 1938 to 1951.

“I feel incredibly proud and privileged to curate this exhibition and to showcase Doncaster's diverse range of talented poets. Giving local poets such a visible and public platform to display their work is really exciting – more than 17,000 people will walk through the space every day!”

Paddy Mellon, general manager at Frenchgate, said: “We want this art space and future exhibitions to be about championing the creative community on our doorstep – supporting and showcasing their talent. We are thrilled to be creating our very own cultural hotspot for the Town.

“We are also keen to strengthen the Centre’s position within the region’s retail sector further by expanding our offering.  Our vision is to make a visit to Frenchgate a more fulfilling experience where people do more than simply shop.

“Visitors can dine in our numerous eateries, take part in the additional activities and attractions we offer throughout the year, and will have access to local artwork and creative writing, too - all right on their doorstep in Doncaster.”

The poetry exhibition has also been supported by a partnership between Doncopolitan and Right Up Our Street.

Rachel Horne, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Doncopolitan, said: "We are delighted Frenchgate has decided to support this initiative - we believe art and culture should be at the heart of everything.

“We are proud to say our shopping centre is embracing local artists and showcasing how creative and talented local people truly are.”

Earlier this year The Making Tracks – Past, Present and Future exhibition went on display at the centre in two units on the ground floor of the West Mall.  The collection of rare ‘railwayana’ showcased the borough’s rail heritage, the present day rail sector, and the future of rail in Doncaster.

The new Art Space and the poetry exhibition are both set to open by the end of March.

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