Art beats going to the pictures

More people visit galleries than cinemas - and 20 more are planned, reports Catherine Pepinster

BRITAIN is enjoying an art gallery renaissance, with at least 20 new galleries being planned across the country.

Industrial towns, ancient cities and even the meadows of the Thames Valley will benefit; while artists who will be shown to be much greater effect range from Ruskin and Lowry to the French impressionists.

While proposals for the Tate's new Bankside gallery in London are well known, many of the others are not. The new buildings will cost a total of pounds 200m, and as well being showcases for Britain's leading contemporary artists, will also be designed by some of the country's leading architects including Terry Farrell and David Chipperfield.

Although the initiative for most of the proposed galleries comes from local authorities, the finances depend on those two modern-day bogeymen - the National Lottery and Europe.

Critics who believe that subsidising the arts via the lottery only benefits an affluent elite are quite wrong, says Bill Macnaught, the man behind a pounds 20m gallery in Gateshead.

"Look at the queues at the Tate for the Turner Prize show. There is a genuine upsurge of interest in contemporary art, but not everyone can travel to London to see it."

Museums and galleries have never been more popular. In 1993, 110 million visits were made to galleries, compared to 103 million visits to the cinema.

Ten of the galleries are being designed to house changing exhibitions of contemporary art, and another four will provide new space for existing collections which cannot be shown because of a lack of space. The rest will be accommodated in refurbished premises, including all the accroutrements of the modern gallery: education spaces, cafes, shops and interactive media.

Among the most important is a new pounds 10m gallery which will be used to house the outstanding Garman-Ryan collection of modern art and sculpture, left to Walsall by the second wife of sculptor Jacob Epstein and currently housed in the overcrowded Walsall Museum. For years,the Black Country town has been linked in the public imagination to heavy industry, but it is also home to one of Britain's most important collections of art, including works by Picasso Monet and Goya.

Also on display in the new gallery will be sculptures of Epstein's own family, complete with their cat and dog, Frisky.

North of the border, Timothy Clifford, director of the National Galleries of Scotland, is planning "a Scottish Musee D'Orsay" in the centre of Glasgow. Housed with-in an old post office, it will show art from the Victorian era to the present day.

The Glasgow space will be complemented by an Edinburgh gallery designed by Terry Farrell and dedicated to the Scottish-Italian artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, while in Inverness the 2000 Artspace is a pounds 15m project devoted to contemporary Scottish art. Its patrons include Ian Anderson, the Jethro Tull singer who is the town's biggest employer through his fishbusiness.

But it is in the north of England that the greatest number of new galleries are being planned. Among them are contemporary art galleries in Berwick upon Tweed, Gateshead and Sunderland; an extension to the Laing gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne ; and a new Ruskin gallery in Lancaster.

Art is not just a metropolitan venture. The idea of rural galleries is also beginning to catch on in Britain, inspired by the Danish Louisiana gallery, spectacularly set in gardens on the Baltic coast.

At Wallingford, Oxfordshire, Louisiana's architect, Vilhelm Wohlert, is designing a pounds 40m art park in 32 acres besides the Thames, while the Mid Wales Centre for the Arts will also enjoy a pastoral setting within the grounds of Powys Castle.

For the majority of Britain's planned galleries, government money and old-fashioned civic pride are essential. But at Compton Verney, where architects Stanton and Williams are converting the eighteenth century stately home into a modern art gallery, that other old-fashioned arts standby, the wealthy patron, is behind the project. Who is the millionaire concerned? None other than Peter Moores, heir to the Littlewoods pools fortune. The fortunes of fine art are, it seems, always a lottery after all.

Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam