When picturing a celebrity gallery opening, you would not necessarily expect it to involve Robson Green in a phone box.
But that is exactly what happened on the streets of Hexham yesterday when the actor unveiled the North East’s smallest art gallery.
Dubbed the Red Box Art Gallery, this BT phone box on Hencotes in the Northumberland town has been transformed into a quirky new art project.
The phone box, which has had its telephone removed, was bought by Allendale’s Forge Studios and will host exhibitions on the street.
Yesterday, Soldier Soldier star Robson said he could not turn down an invite to officially open such a different project.
He said: “It’s great, who would have thought in my career I would be asked to open something like this?
“It’s not been my bag to open shopping centres and hairdressers, but this is the smallest art gallery possibly in the world, so it’s not a bad thing to do.
“I am from the area and I live in Hexham, so when I was asked to do this it was a real privilege and honour.”
Residents turned out in the rain to see the star open the new gallery and toast the new addition to the town.
Amanda Galbraith, managing director of Allendale Forge Studios, said Robson had been very generous with his time and told how the idea for the gallery originally came to her.
“In the spring I was sitting having a coffee and trying to think of a new project to do with our scholar students,” she said.
“I just noticed a news article about BT boxes and I thought we could turn that into a street gallery. I called BT and they were quite interested.
“This box is actually a heritage building so we bought it,” said Amanda.
The gallery now has its own Facebook page and Amanda said she hoped the idea would catch on across the country.
The first work to be exhibited in it comes from the young scholars and there are six pieces on show at the moment.
Jina Gelder, of Denton Burn in Newcastle, and Anna Casey, of Gosforth in Newcastle, both have their work displayed in the phone box.
“We love the idea, it is just really crazy,” said Jina, 25. “My work is animal art with ink and water colours. It will be really exciting to see what’s done next.”
Anna’s work is a monoprint and she said she was very proud that someone like Robson Green had seen her work.
“It’s dead exciting,” said the 28-year-old. “We are really proud. It’s also good promotion and to launch it as a community project is great.
Find out more about the gallery at www.allendaleforgestudios.co.uk , or call 01434 683975.