Stunning artwork chosen by the people of South Tyneside has been unveiled at The Customs House. The design created by artist Kylie Ann Ford is 6m high and will be on display for the next three months for people to come and see.
The arts venue and charity in South Tyneside asked the community to fill their building banner with ‘what togetherness means to you’. Dozens of entries were whittled down to four and then it was handed over to the public to vote. And, it was Kylie’s design, ‘Connected By Our Roots’, which was triumphant.
Kylie, from South Shields, who has recently started a new business called Coco SoShi Art, selling clothing with her designs on them, said: “This building means so much to me, it is one of the main reasons I was able to explore my creativity from an early age and without it I would not have had the same career or made the same lifelong friends that I have today. So, it fills my heart with an enormous amount of joy that my artwork will be displayed on the side of it...like a little (or to be fair, massive!) jacket of love to keep it warm until we're allowed back in to play!
“I was born and raised in South Shields and the connection that people from South Tyneside - and the North East in general - have to the area always feels incredibly strong, no matter how far away they venture. I know my own will never break. We are a community and, whether we were grown here from the beginning, or whether we've been freshly planted, we are all Connected By Our Roots. A million thanks to everyone who voted for my piece.”
More than 1400 votes were made through an online poll. Kylie’s artwork will not only be on display on the side of the building but hers and the other shortlisted artworks by Joanne Cocklin, Elissa Kinnersley and Arts 4 Wellbeing will appear on an online gallery.
Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “It was lovely that so many people took their time to send in so many brilliant posters. They were all winners! It was great that then so many more took part in choosing the final piece to grace our building and it sums up our community, wherever we go, whatever we do, we’ll be joined by our roots.”