An internationally acclaimed artist cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Dorchester Art Gallery.

Doug Hyde attended the opening of the Brewery Square gallery where he signed paintings and tucked into canapés with an appreciative crowd.

Named the UK’s best-selling published artist he has also been dubbed the ‘nation’s favourite artist’, famous for his iconic smiley faces and oversized hearts.

My Hyde’s appearance marked the official opening celebrations of Dorchester Art Gallery, the brainchild of Hannah Webster and her partner Geoff Wick.

Owner and manager Miss Webster said: “My original inspiration for getting into art was Doug, so it’s such an honour to have him here for our opening.”

Miss Webster, a former property manager who lives in Weymouth, said she has always been a keen art collector and dreamt of opening a gallery.

She said: “The reaction we have had from the public so far has been absolutely amazing. When we had our initial vision for a gallery in Dorchester, our main concern was footfall, but we’ve been so busy.”

The modern space features work from a range of top-selling artists including Fabian Perez, Simon Kenny and Dorset-based Rebecca Lardner.

It also boasts a viewing room where people can “experience the art work in a small space.”

Miss Webster said: “There are so many good artists out there, so we have a mix of all different styles, although it is all contemporary.

“For me, Doug’s work just makes me smile. And that’s the thing about art, it is about how it makes you feel. Art is an emotional investment rather than a financial one.”

Mr Hyde, whose trademark figures have made him a worldwide sensation, said his family are the main inspiration behind his art.

Speaking at the opening he said: “I’m here today with my new collection of work and looking forward to sharing it with the lovely people of Dorchester.

“My work is basically a diary in pictures, I am married with three children, so a lot of the work I do it for them, it’s fun.”

Over the coming months DAG will be exhibiting original paintings, collectable limited editions and sculpture from renowned artists and emerging talents.