A NEW art gallery is already enthralling visitors with a thought-provoking exhibition inspired by a bundle of long-lost letters.

Visual Arts Cheshire (VAC) opened the Witton Street gallery to the public on Saturday, following a packed private view on Friday evening.

The voluntary arts co-operative has spent a month converting the former Connexions building, near Northwich Library, from a long-empty office into bright gallery space.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) is letting the group use the building rent-free for four months, and VAC has plans to hold exhibitions, workshops and community events throughout that time.

Alan Carr, VAC chairman, said: “The challenge was to turn this whole set up into an art gallery.

“People have been really kind – we’ve had donations of paint, and we needed lots of it as it had to be painted twice, we managed to get some electricians who weren’t going to cost us anything, we found someone who cleans carpets and the windows were cleaned for the first time in a long time.”

VAC’s first exhibition is called The Lightfoot Letters and is an intriguing fusion of textile art, poetry and social history by Northwich poet Angela Topping and Warrington artist Maria Walker.

It is based on letters written in 1923 that were rediscovered in a Cheshire antiques shop combined with a remarkable coincidence.

Maria, a former art and design student from Mid Cheshire College, bought the letters on a whim and five years later met Angela Topping, only to discover that the letters were written by Angela’s grandparents.

The pair could not resist a collaboration after this coincidence and were delighted to show their work in the new gallery.

“I think it’s a fantastic venue and am really excited about it being here,” Angela said.

“Hopefully people walking up the street will see the exhibition through the windows and come in.

“It will be a really good community space.”

Maria said: “They’ve just transformed the space and it has kind of expanded.

“I think Northwich needs something like this – it’s a really worthwhile thing to support.”

The exhibition runs until March 15.

The gallery will be open daily except Wednesdays and Sundays and admission is free.

For more information about VAC visit visualartscheshire.blogspot.co.uk.