John Keane’s much-loved portrait of Mo Molam has just been installed as a work in focus display at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, in the heart of her former constituency. A popular figure locally, Mowlam was Minister for Redcar and Cleveland between 1987 and 2001. On my visit to see the picture installed, the wall panels with interpretation were yet to go up, but Joanne Hodgson, Cultural Services Coordinator (seen here), was expecting the portrait to be a real draw for local people who will be invited to contribute their own memories of Mowlam as part of the display. The portrait will be on display from 27 September until 14 December 2014.
As well as being a dedicated local MP, Mo Molam is best known nationally for her contribution to brokering the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s, and as such, is an ideal sitter to be part of the Making a Mark Programme. Making a Mark is a project in which seven museums based in the Tees Valley are in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery in a programme of activity with young people to encourage them to take pride in their local area and to celebrate their local heroes and heritage. The three year programme has already attracted large numbers of school aged children to visit their local museums.
The museums have all chosen very different contemporary and historic ‘heroes’ from the National Portrait Gallery Collection for display depending on their collections and locations. These range from Michael Faraday who had links to the Loftus mines near Skinningrove to Terence Conran and other contemporary makers who worked in a similar way to Christopher Dresser, a key figure in the collections at the Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough. Find out more about the project, the displays and the partner museums on the Making a Mark website.