A pop-up gallery in Barnsley town centre is featuring work by an 83-year-old artist with dementia. Alice Rose went along to investigate.

ON ENTERING the gallery, George Eyre’s face lit up with a beaming smile.

Before him, on the wall, was decades worth of his art work which had been stored away and never seen by the public until now.

The 83-year-old grandad, who is originally from Goldthorpe but now lives in Dearne Park Care Home, Bolton-upon-Dearne, has been drawing for most of his life, but has had to slow down over time due to moving into a care home and being diagnosed with dementia.

However, when one of his carers had a chance encounter with the owner of community gallery Art ‘n’ Abart, in the Alhambra Centre, it led to his work - which had been cooped up in folders in the bedroom of his care home - to be put on display.

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“He has always drawn, always,” said George’s granddaughter Sarah Eyre, 27.

“I think the only reason he drew was to get out the way of my nanan because she was always on at him, so he used to shut himself away from her nagging and draw.

“He has done all sorts of work - watercolours, pencils, acrylics, pastels, oil paintings, everything. We all think they’re write good. He even used to do calligraphy for a doctor’s surgery in Goldthorpe.”

“He doesn’t know how good his work really is,” added George’s other granddaughter, Katie Eyre, 24.

George’s work is on display on the walls of Art ‘n’ Abart and features pencil portraits of celebrities, as well as watercolour paintings of landscapes.

Ang Lewis, who runs Art ‘n’ Abart, said she was delighted when she met George’s carer and discussed putting the 83-year-old’s work in the gallery.

“I thought it was just wonderful,” said Ang. “We are hoping to give him a bit of a lift really. I thought it was lovely the carers thought of him and he really is talented.”

Kerry Nippers, activity co-ordinator at Dearne Park Care Home, said it was great to get George’s work out and see it all displayed professionally.

“It always makes us laugh that he started drawing to keep away from his wife Val,” she said.

“George has had them shown before but its been nothing like this. He still draws at the moment but his work isn’t the same as he has dementia and he is forgetful.

“He does still have his art equipment and drawings in his room and he likes to ask visitors to the home to sit down and he will draw their portrait. Drawing really helps him and calms him down. He’s never bigged-up his work and never thought he was any good which is completely wrong.”

George got to see his art work framed and displayed at Art ‘n’ Abart on a day out with his family and carers. He said he thought the display made his work ‘look great’ and spoke about the different art work he had done over the years.

“It was just amazing to see his face when he came in,” added Ang.

Art ‘n’ Abart opened on June 22 and is a community-based gallery which features the work of emerging artists.

“Art ‘n’ Abart is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Ang. “I always had this thing in the back of my mind when I was studying at Barnsley College in higher education about there is nothing for emerging artists here. You get your end of year shows but then there’s no place that wants to take these artists on.

“I thought that’s where the loophole is, and that’s what Art ‘n’ Abart is. We feature work from emerging artists and those who haven’t really displayed their work before.

“I think there’s a need and market for it really.”