A “powerful and thought-provoking” art exhibition showcasing near-life size photographic portraits of the public will be officially launched by Rosie Winterton MP at Frenchgate Shopping Centre Doncaster.
The shopping centre has welcomed Les Monaghan as its artist in residence and his first installation will be The Desire Project – 1.8m photographic portraits of people in Doncaster answering the question ‘what do you want?’
The exhibition will be officially launched today by Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton at a drinks reception where guests will have the opportunity to meet the artist.
Les, who lives and works in Doncaster, said: “I am interested in what it means to live today and want the exhibition to question what we value as a society.
“’What do you want?’ is a simple question – but beyond immediate needs, like a break or a coffee, what do we actually desire most?”
Local war hero Ben Parkinson is among those to feature in the exhibition, which includes people from a variety of backgrounds and ages, including a Kurdish woman who calls for gender equality, while a young man shares his musical dreams of becoming a rapper.
Karen Staniforth, marketing manager at Frenchgate Shopping Centre, said: “We know Les is aiming to reach the widest audience, especially those who may not actively access art, and so we’re really pleased to be able to host this amazing project.
“We’re glad to see many of our customers volunteered to be a part of it, too. The collection of almost life-size photographic portraits is powerful and thought-provoking.”
Les added: “This project allows members of the public some reflective time to ponder a big question and it’s interesting that of the more than 120 people I have taken photographs of so far, the majority of their desires were not materialistic – they were to do with health, happiness, love, peace, and family.
“My ‘desire’ is for art to be for everyone and so I need to reach as many people as possible – and exhibiting at Frenchgate Shopping Centre, with its large footfall, is a brilliant start.”
The Desire Project is funded by Arts Council England and will be on display in the busy thoroughfare which connects Frenchgate to the town’s train station.
It follows an exhibition of fringe art at Frenchgate last year when expressionist work by artists from across Yorkshire went on display at the shopping centre.