Artwork of birthday girl Opal on display at Mercury Mall

Artwork display Romford shopping centre

Birthday girl Opal Cangil stood proudly beside her artwork which is currently on display at the Mercury Shopping Centre in Romford. - Credit: Natalie Bays

A Romford artist has seen her work go on display at the Mercury Shopping Centre.

Birthday girl Opal Cangil - who turns 24 today - used her talents to create the No Fear exhibition which will be on display until August 22.

The Recorder first learned of Opal's artistic abilities last year, when the then 23-year-old spoke about living with Asperger's syndrome.

She proudly referred to the condition as her "special power", which mum Shaf said means Opal "just doesn’t know fear".

This reference is what inspired the exhibit's name, with the 24-year-old firm in the belief that her Asperger's frees her from that feeling.

Several bodies have been involved in making this opportunity happen.

Artwork on display at Romford shopping centre

Opal has been supported by the Sycamore Trust over the past two years, and credits the autism charity with helping to facilitate this display. - Credit: Natalie Bays

Firstly, the Sycamore Trust charity - which has operated the Autism Hub in the Liberty Centre since 2015 - has been behind Opal every step of the way, having supported her since 2019.

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Secondly, the exhibition has benefitted from the support of local arts group Havering Changing.

This Arts Council-funded initiative is currently running a project which supports the artistic endeavours of those living and working in four areas across Havering (including Romford).

Thirdly, the Mercury Shopping Centre said yes. 

The artist is thankful to all three: "I am forever grateful to the Sycamore Trust, Havering Changing and the Romford Mercury Centre for offering me this opportunity to help people on the Autism spectrum become more visible to the general public and showcase what we can do, not just what we can’t.”

Opal's achievements are of huge pride to the Sycamore Trust, upon whom she has made a huge impression in two short years.

Steve Dixon said: "We know how talented she is and we’re delighted to see her work on display to a wider audience.

"We’re really grateful to Havering Changing and the Mercury for giving us the opportunity to showcase just how much talent there is among the Autistic community."

Also delighted by this collaboration is Havering Changing, whose Romford representative Julia Stallard added: "We are hoping Opal might lead some workshops in the autumn to help others unleash their creativity!”

No Fear will be on display at the Daniel’s View exhibition space on the third floor of the shopping centre until August 22.