Tyne & Wear

Sheila Graber museum wall mural repainted almost 30 years on

Sheila Graber Image copyright Tyne and Wear Museums
Image caption Sheila Graber said the recreation was "a chance to go back and revisit"

An artist has recreated a street scene inside a museum, almost 30 years after she first produced it.

Sheila Graber is one of the UK's most celebrated animators, worked on the popular 1970s BBC children's series Paddington and her art has been shown in galleries world-wide.

Her 1991 mural of a local street was a fixture of South Shields Museum until it was covered by another in 2004.

The 79-year-old has now repainted it to coincide with a retrospective of her decades-long career, which opens at the museum in May.

She said it was "interesting" to return to the scene.

"You're bringing the past alive by redoing it, so you're not just looking back, but bringing the past into the present", she said.

Street in the museum Image copyright Tyne and Wear Museums
Image caption Items were placed in front of the original mural to add to the 3D effect
Working sketch made in 1991 Image copyright Sheila Graber
Image caption A working sketch from 1991 shows how the mural was envisaged
Photo of William Black Street that artist worked to Image copyright Sheila Graber
Image caption It was based on a photograph of William Black Street in South Shields

Graber began her career teaching after attending art school in Sunderland, and then in 1970 turned to animation, becoming internationally-known for her work on the stop-motion animated series based on Michael Bond's Paddington Bear books.

She has won several major awards from the Royal Television Society, shown her work in the Tate and several other galleries, and has taught all over the world.

In 1998 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Sunderland for Outstanding services to Education and Art.

Removing the boards covering the Jarrow March mural Image copyright Sheila Graber
Image caption The boards were taken down to reveal some remains of the original painting
Sheila Graber with the completed mural Image copyright Sheila Graber
Image caption She said half the mural was left, so it was easier than starting again from scratch

When she was first asked to redo the painting she said her first thought was "can I do it, climbing up on things?".

"But the lads here have been great with providing platforms," the artist said.

"In any case it's better than washing the dishes - anything to avoid real work."

Letter to Sheila from John Wilks Image copyright John Wilks
Image caption Letter to Sheila from the then-curator John Wilks detailing the commission

In advance of the retrospective, the museum is keen to track down any of Graber's works in private or public ownership, with a view to borrowing or reproduce them for it.

Paddington, 1970s BBC children's programme
Image caption Sheila Graber worked on children's programme Paddington, which was first shown on the BBC from 1976

Adam Bell, assistant keeper of history, said: "As a child Sheila was strongly influenced by her visits to South Shields Central Library on Ocean Road, now the museum and art gallery.

"And we'd also like to hear from people who could share any memories, information or anecdotes about South Shields Arts Club and/or the art school."

The Red Groyne by Sheila Graber Image copyright Sheila Graber
Image caption The exhibition will include paintings, such as the Red Groyne

The exhibition, Sheila from Shields (and her cat), will run from 2 May to 10 October.

All images copyright as stated.

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