New way to look at old masters

TOP-CLASS art could soon be on display - the digital way. Some of Hartlepool's most popular works could go on show in a computer-based gallery.

Hartlepool Borough Council plans to install a new 'digital art gallery' at Hartlepool Art Gallery, in Church Square.

It comes after the Mail recently revealed the top paintings voted for by town residents out of Hartlepool's permanent collection of art.

Hundreds of votes were cast and the top five were Sleeping Beauty, by Irish artist Daniel Maclise, Giant Head of Ben, by Nahem Shoa, The Path by the Millpond, by Richard Henry Brock, The Bombardment, by James Clark, and Idleness, by Alice Hogarth Nicholson.

The plans involve installing a 'virtual gallery' at the Church Square site.

It had originally been thought that Amazing Interactives, a 3-D graphic design company based in Middlesbrough, would provide a package costing 5,000.

But a trial-run revealed that the original design would not be accessible to all visitors, in that some may not have much experience in using a computer.

However, the council's arts, museums and events service has now applied to the council to waiver its contract procedures rules to account for the additional 1,000 it would cost to alter the project's design.

John Mennear, the council's assistant director of community services, asked for the waiver at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council's culture, leisure and transportation portfolio.

He told portfolio holder Victor Tumilty: "The museum's art collection has never been on display all at the same time. Not everybody would be comfortable enough to access the images, so the changes would involve easier navigation, where for instance they would select an artist or theme and they could skim through the whole lot."

Councillor Tumilty asked: "So it's not just a case of walking in, looking round and walking out?"

Mr Mennear replied that the scheme would be moving away from the "old concept" and Coun Tumilty agreed to the amendment.