A PROMISE made to North East Autism Society by world-famous artist Mackenzie Thorpe has borne fruit.

The artist pledged to produce a work of art for the NEAS after becoming a patron of our charity in December.

And now Mackenzie is the apple of our eye after donating not one, but two, images for a pioneering project based at our County Durham farm.

The artworks are destined to become the labels on bottles of cider and apple juice produced at New Warlands Farm, at Burnhope, County Durham.

The farm is owned by NEAS and run as a unique training centre, with service-users engaged in a project to produce fruit and vegetables, eggs, artisan breads, scones, and drinks, to make the farm sustainable.

Around 150 apple trees, out of a target of 1,000, have also been planted, and pressing equipment has been acquired to make our very own brand of cider and apple juice.

Mackenzie was inspired by the project when he was announced as the our patron during a visit to the farm last December, and vowed to produce a work of art that could be reproduced on the bottle labels.

The Middlesbrough-born artist, whose work is in demand all over the world, has now proved to be as good as his word, in time for World Autism Acceptance Month.

Not only has he created a new pastel work called “Picked With Love” specifically for NEAS, but he has also made available a piece, called Love Picker, which he completed a few years ago.

The pair of paintings show children picking apples, in the shape of hearts, from trees bathed in light.

Mackenzie said:

I was very moved by my visit to New Warlands Farm, and to see the wonderful work being carried out by the North East Autism Society.

As a proud patron, I wanted to do something that would be of both value and practical use to the charity. The idea of producing designs for the cider and apple juice labels came into my head straight away, and it will be an honour to see them on the bottles.

Due to the continuing coronavirus crisis, the official unveiling of the artworks will take place later this year, along with further details of how they will be used to benefit the charity.

NEAS chief executive, John Phillipson, said:

We were thrilled when someone of Mackenzie’s stature agreed to become our patron, and the works of art he has donated are absolutely stunning.

It was a very different world back in December when Mackenzie visited the farm, but we look forward to the day - hopefully in the not too distant future - when we can welcome him back, with his wife Susan, and toast him properly for his wonderful gesture.

It is no exaggeration to say that every bottle of cider and apple juice produced by our service-users at New Warlands Farm will now be a work of art.