SNEAK PEEK: Art lovers in for a big surprise with Bears! at Cooper Gallery

Promoted by Barnsley Museums

If you go down to Barnsley's Cooper Gallery this summer you’re sure of a big surprise

Bears!, a free entry touring art exhibition of children's book illustrations and manuscripts, will feature famous bears from Paddington to Winnie-the-Pooh.

Visitors will also discover new stories filled with polar bears, panda bears and toy bears.

And the first 25 children to turn up with their favourite cuddly toy teddy will get a free goody bag when it opens at the town centre gallery in Church Street this Saturday, June 30.

A teddy bears picnic in the venue's picturesque outdoor garden will also be held, noon to 1.30pm.

The picnic costs £5 per person, including a picnic box meal, music and story telling.

Other free and paid for events during the exhibition - to September 1 - include Pot A Wellie For Paddington, to celebrate Paddington's 60th birthday, puppet making, more storytelling and art workshops. For more visit www.cooper-gallery.com.

It encourages family reading in special areas with books scattered around in a bear cave, a bedroom and a glade - representing an open woodland - all specially build inside the gallery.

There is also a staircase with a scary bear hiding under it, revealed Alison Cooper, Exhibitions Curator.

She said: "We've even got a bed. You can get inside it. You can sit in a chair on the floor and in the glade - a really lovely place to read, dress up, play with the teddy bears and have a great time with your family."

Artwork and manuscripts featured include Hugless Douglas, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Bear and The Piano and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

Alongside bears and bear stories the exhibition is an opportunity to see beautiful, inspiring illustrations from the creators of many favourite bear books, including Anthony Browne, Jackie Morris, Helen Cooper and Chris Riddell.

There is also the chance to gain an insight into the process of illustration with many artists using a combination of traditional and digital techniques including; Jon Klassen, Joel Stewart and David Litchfield.

The Sadler Room, upstairs in the gallery, will display Me and My Bear portraits of visitors and their much-loved bears.

Coun Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Seven Stories fascinating exhibition to Barnsley. Alongside many bears, there will be a glade, bear cave and a library of bear-related books. Throughout the exhibition, we will be working with Barnsley Libraries and welcoming a very special guest in July from the BookTrust, Bookstart Bear.

“Always a great destination for families to explore, there will be even more to see and do over the summer in Barnsley. Whether you’re 1 or 101, there'll be something for everyone, and the exhibition is a great way to kick-start the town's summer programme in style.”

Gill Rennie, Senior Curator at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, who re behind the touring exhibition, said: ‘Almost everyone has a teddy bear! And over the last one hundred years, bears have become increasingly popular subjects for children’s authors and illustrators. What is it about bears that we love so much? And what adventures are bears getting up to in books today? Visit the exhibition to find out!"

Bears! opens as part of the first week-long Experience Barnsley Festival, which culminates on Saturday with a History Day in the Experience Barnsley Museum across the road, in the iconic Town Hall. More details at www.experience-barnsley.com.

Entry to Bears! is free with donations welcomed to the Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust. For more visit www.barnsley-museums.com and www.bmht.org.

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