ANTONY Gormley certainly subscribes to the cause. Art can be therapy, a release, a means of escape, he says.

“For me, drawing is a foundation activity, something that I do every day,” he said in the written explanation he submitted with his contribution to the impending ART with HEART auction at Hexham’s Queen’s Hall.

“In a sense it is a seed bed of and for ideas and feelings. It is also a place of escape from the procedural demands of making sculpture.”

It is that recognition of the therapeutic value of art that has led more than 80 artists to donate 107 pieces of work to the fund-raiser that will ultimately pay for the establishment of arts-based activities for local people with dementia and their families.

Queen’s Hall development manager Sharon West said: “There’s a lot of awareness now around the benefits of art and music as therapy – you just have to look at (the BBC’s) Our Dementia Choir with actress Vicky McClure.

“And with us being a dementia-friendly organisation, we felt we wanted to do more, to look at things such as a choir and an art club.”

They wanted to cater for families and primary carers too, she added. “They need time out and the opportunity to chat, to share, with others who understand. It all helps in dealing with dementia.”

Quite what will be established will be decided by a steering group that includes Adele Kinsella, secretary of Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance and organiser of the Singing for the Brain sessions run on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society in Hexham Abbey.

But first, there’s the money to raise. The digital ART with HEART auction will close at 9pm on Thursday May 23, but until then, bids can be placed online via

Besides Gormley’s piece, described as a crude oil on paper, there are animals ‘au naturel’ by Sue Moffitt, Emerson Mayes and Ray Stephenson, landscapes by Christina Mingard, Anne Kinniment, Lucinda Newall and Denis McErlane, and seascapes by Fiona Carvell, Trevor Craggs and Fiona Clucas, among many others.

There is also a diverse range of hamlet, town and cityscapes, among them a particularly striking picture of a summer evening in Beadnell Bay, by oil painter Walter Holmes, two very atmospheric watercolours, one of Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and Grey Street by Ray Quickfall and the other, of a long redundant Wallsend shipyard, by Ben Haslam, and a print of a whimsical take on Whitley Bay, entitled Don’t Pull the Plug, by Peter Davidson.

Haltwhistle’s Sue Moorhouse has contributed an artistic take on the A68 in A Road Once Travelled. She said: “Having cared for someone who had previously had an interest in art, but has since developed dementia, I found that using once familiar materials revived her interest, especially when linking the work to her favourite things such as her cat.

“Making connections elevated her mood, enriched her life for a while, and encouraged conversation.

“I am very pleased to have donated work to the ART with HEART fund-raiser in order to develop new projects to support people and carers living with the condition.”

All of the works of art are currently on display in the Queen’s Hall. Sharon West said: “Some people are coming in to look at the pictures ‘in the flesh’ before going off to bid online.”

The first ART with HEART auction, in September 2017, raised over £15,000. The final sum is then matched by Arts Council England.