Sunderland's consumer 'zombies' are mourned and celebrated in city centre exhibition

An artwork depicting Wearside folk as faceless consumer zombies and mourning "the loss of identity in the 21st Century" has found an unlikely home '¦ in a Sunderland shopping centre!

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 4:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th May 2018, 12:16 pm
One of the panels from SLABS (lite) at The Bridges in Sunderland.
One of the panels from SLABS (lite) at The Bridges in Sunderland.

Artist Barrie West’s colourful take on the perils of “our impersonal lifestyle” has been unveiled in The Bridges shopping mall.

But the work, entitled SLABS (lite), is not intended to offend, says the artist, but to enlighten and encourage other city businesses that they too can increase theirfootfall by making their premises available to display work by local artists.

Artist Barrie West.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Barrie, 74, who lives in Cleadon, said: “Art has to be seen. It doesn’t matter whether you love it or hate it, what matters is that you can see it and make your own mind up.”

“There is an abundance of talented artists out there looking for somewhere to display their wares and plenty of wall space in our city on which to display it.

“We just need the businesses to play ball. I’m grateful to The Bridges’ management for getting the ball rolling, by taking the first step. Here’s hoping others will follow suit.”

The SLABS (lite) artwork features 10 panels of Barrie’s cartoon-like city shoppers which he based on actual Sunderland people he observed milling in and around The Bridges. Accompanying each image are words specially commissioned from the Tyneside poet Harry Gallagher, 54.

Poet Harry Gallagher.

Barrie said: “The images of the shoppers show these people as footfall, mere statistics on an accountant’s spreadsheet. It’s easy to forget they are real people with real lives. That’s why I asked Harry to look at the pictures and pen words about what he saw.

“His words tell a backstory to each individual. They are funny, sad, occasionally surreal, but they tell us that these people are real.”

SLABs (lite) is on display in The Bridges’ corridor next to The Disney Store.

If you have a Sunderland business and would like to display art by local artists, Barrie can be emailed [email protected]