A unique piece of art has been commissioned chronicling the history of one of the North East’s best-loved charities.
The People’s Kitchen supports hundreds of “friends” across the city every day. Volunteers have supported vulnerable people in Newcastle for more than 30 years serving up to 225 meals every session, cooking everything from scratch. Started by the late Alison Kay, the charity is run entirely by volunteers, no government funding is received, and no one is paid for their work.
Nestled amongst some of Newcastle’s newest and tallest buildings, The Kitchen is a well-known building, but passers-by would be forgiven for not knowing the good work that goes on in there. As Trustee Jackie Boardman explains, it was time to let people know what they were walking or driving past.
“We wanted to engage more with our local community and at the same time brighten up our drab car park wall. When we asked our friends for ideas for the wall, one suggested that we show the mural going from dark to light as it represented how he felt going from a dark personal place to the warmth and compassion shown by the volunteers who help him and others. We then asked a local artist to design a mural to tell our story from when we were formed in 1985 up to the present day,” she said.
North Shields artist, Mark Shields knew as Mark One87 researched the charity’s history and chose several themes to paint including founder Alison Kay, homeless people on the streets and The Kitchen’s Christmas Street party.
“This was a great project to work on and after a lot of research into the life of The Kitchen over the years, I created something which illustrates the transition from being out in the cold through to the love and support created by all of the amazing volunteers and their unlimited compassion for those in need. I followed and included the slogan of ‘We are not here to see through one another, but to see one another through’ which I feel sums up the ethos of The People’s Kitchen very well and carries on the original vision of Alison,” said Mark.
Mark was assisted in the painting by Ryan Conaty (16) and Jayden Saint (16), two students from Whitley Bay High School who took up the challenge as part of their GCSE coursework. They had both previously taken part in a graffiti art project organised by Mark. Teacher David Lee was very proud of the work the two had put into the project.
“They spent three days helping the artist to create this magnificent piece of art that will be part of the Newcastle cityscape for generations to come. It’s been a great experience for them both and as a school, we hope to continue our relationship with The People’s Kitchen over the summer term and beyond.”
“The mural has really brightened up our car park, tells our story to the outside world and all of our friends appreciate it, we’re all really impressed,” added Jackie.
Donations can be made on The People’s Kitchen website www.peopleskitchen.co.uk/donate/