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Middlesbrough art exhibition boosts volunteering

An exhibition at The Masham in Middlesbrough is inviting members of the public to take away their own piece of contemporary artwork created by Layla Khoo, a ceramicist and artist, without any money changing hands. The bricks can be taken by anyone in exchange for donating one day of their time to a local volunteer organisation. 

The exhibition is called Give/Receive, and features ceramic handmade bricks. The bricks take inspiration from both scoria blocks – made from the molten waste produced by the smelting of steel resulting from the area’s famed ironworks – and the tradition of commemorative ceramics from Middlesbrough potteries.

There were originally 365 bricks when the exhibition opened in September, but that number has reduced due to members of the public taking them away one by one. 

The local causes who have collectively already benefited from the exchanges made to date are:

  • Nite Light CIC – an innovative digital pay forward service to support people who are homeless to have access to essentials such as meals, snacks, drinks, and hygiene bags.
  • Community Champions Middlesbrough – a grassroots organisation that enables people across Middlesbrough get involved in volunteering with a range of activities for all ages and abilities.
  • Women’s Street Watch Boro – a volunteer group who patrol the town centre between 10pm-2am each weekend to offer support or companionship to women who are alone, unwell, or experiencing unwanted attention on nights out.

The non-monetary exchange is recorded in a “Share Certificate” to acknowledge and archive the exchange, creating a permanent record of the artwork and the time donated for it. Give/Receive is free to view and is at The Masham on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough, a former pub and now a creative community hub managed by local arts organisation Navigator North as part of the Celebrating Hidden Middlesbrough project.

Layla Khoo, the artist said:

 “I wanted to celebrate how businesses and individuals alike can give back to their own communities. Everyone who gives the gift of their time in exchange for a brick is directly supporting the voluntary organisations, community interest companies and charities dedicated to taking care of the communities of Middlesbrough. My hope is that all 365 pieces will be exchanged, meaning the artwork will result in one full year of volunteered time given back to worthwhile local causes.”

For more information on the exhibition and Celebrating Hidden Middlesbrough visit 

Give/Receive by Layla Khoo is at The Masham, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough until Saturday 26 November 2022. For those unable to give their time, there is an option to donate the equivalent monetary value of one day’s volunteer cost (£70) via an online payment which The Teesside Charity will administer.