Artists, photographers, fashion designers and sculptors such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Jason Freeny have used toys in their contemporary art and design as a way of developing technical craft or sharing deeper insights of our world. 

The Civic theatre and art gallery in South Yorkshire’s Barnsley is putting on The Toy Box: From Pop to Present - an exhibition exploring how these artists and a string of others manage to successfully incorporate toys into their current and past projects. It will also look at how toys have inspired designers and artists, and as a result, artists have created their own collectable toys known as "urban vinyl".

Image: Joe Simpson's LEGO Captain Red Beard is a limited edition print taken from his series of paintings of toys and figures, which also includes paintings of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Lion-O figurines.

Joe is a figurative painter who works primarily in oils to create realistic images. His paintings have been shown in galleries including The National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Albert Hall. 

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