The Big Picture Co-op’s gallery features artwork supplied by street children from India, Mexico and Swaziland — proceeds help to feed, clothe and provide shelter for the children. Walls display paintings, drawings and photographs from street children who rely on the sale of pictures as a source of income.
Paul Sudlow, a member of the co-operative, told the News: “We’ve used the children’s pictures in a variety of ways — from huge framed paintings or photographs that will create an instant talking point in any home or business, to some great little gifts for arty children. They are all interesting products that people will want in their homes, but hopefully they’ll also stop and think about the children who painted them.”
Mr Sudlow, who recently spent a week with the co-operative’s partners in India, added: “We have established links with partner organisations in India, Mexico and Swaziland. And I’ve been fortunate enough to see the work that our Indian partner does. They rescue children from the streets and provide them with accommodation, food and education.
“We provide our partners with art materials which the children use — sometimes for the first time — to create fantastic pictures. Our partners receive a monthly payment, regardless of how many pictures we sell, to help plan their work and provide better services and facilities for the children they work with. Our partners also receive a share of the co-op’s profits.”
The co-operative, based in Norton Village, Teesside, is partly run by ex-offenders on a month-by-month placement. During their time there they are treated as members of the co-operative, have a full say in how the business is run and learn about the wider Co-operative Movement. The Big Picture, which has received financial support from the Co-operative Fund, is planning open evenings and special offers for members of other co-operatives.
It has also introduced a picture rental scheme for businesses who want to show their ethical credentials. For ï¿½£10/month, firms can rent four framed pictures over a 12 month period.
The co-operative’s art work is also available to buy online at: www.thebigpicture.coop.