The Art House starts an exciting new chapter as it reopens after £3m development of former library.

03.12.2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Monday 30 November 2015

  • The Art House reopens on the International day of people with disabilities following a major £3m capital project.
  • The new development breathes life into historic Drury Lane library following extensive restoration revealing many original features including arts and craft tiles, and parquet flooring. 
  • The reopening celebrates the growing arts ecology in the region creating 34 new studios for the creative industries. 
  • New exhibition inspired by the region’s industrial past with new collaboration by designers Fraser Muggeridge and Laura Slater now open
  • The spirit of philanthropy is revisited as Wakefield’s Carnegie library is repurposed and celebrates access and diversity in the arts


The Art House celebrates an exciting new chapter as it breathes life into Drury Lane library following a major £3m development funded by European Regional Development Fund, Wakefield Council and Arts Council England. 

The newly extended site in the heart of Wakefield will provide additional facilities for artists, designers and makers and will be formally reopened on Thursday 3 December by Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council. Work started on the former library in 2014 and the completed scheme includes additional fully accessible, flexible and affordable workspaces for visual artists living and working in the region alongside a project space and meeting room facilities. 

Drury Lane library was designed by Trimmell, Cox & Co of Woldingham, Surrey and built by Bagnall Brothers of Wakefield following a request by a local Wakefield alderman to American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose gift of £8,000 saw the free public library open. Carnegie went on to fund four further public libraries in the Wakefield district. Andrew Carnegie opened Drury Lane library in June 1906 and said during his visit “My thanks will be everlasting if you prove that you receive this benefit in the spirit it is intended.”

Jane Glaister OBE, chair of The Art House said “We are delighted to see the this ambitious development completed and the historic Drury Lane library restored and occupied by a wide range of tenants. Our ambition is to become a nationally recognised organisation that places diverse art and artists at the heart of cultural debate. Our new space creates a platform to engage with artists and audiences and I look forward to seeing it become a leading creative resource that supports a creative community to develop professionally and artistically.” 

To celebrate the reopening of The Art House and the rich industrial heritage of the city, a new collaboration pairs a unique hand-printed wallpaper by designers Laura Slater and Fraser Muggeridge with a selection of objects on loan from Wakefield Museum in an exhibition called ‘Wakefield Industrial and Fine Art, 150 Years’. The installation references the Wakefield Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition of 1865, one of many exhibitions held nationally following the Great Exhibition of 1851 - the first international exhibition of manufactured goods held in the magnificent Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park. This exhibition will remain a backdrop for activities taking place in the Project Space throughout 2016.

Kerry Harker and Ruth Lilley, Interim Directors, said “The reopening of The Art House underlines Wakefield’s unique thriving arts offer and its growing reputation as a creative city to live, work and visit. Through our artistic programme, mentoring and residencies we can build on our founding principles of access and inclusivity by challenging conventional approaches to diversity and the arts - an appropriate way to mark the International Day of People with Disabilities.”

Visitors to The Art House will be able to see the restored library building including the arts and craft tiles which have been lovingly restored alongside many other original features including parquet flooring, original librarians desk and the much loved weather vane on the exterior of the building. The Art House is open to the public from 10am to 4pm Tuesday – Thursday, and for special events including the Wakefield Art Walk, advertised online.

The Drury Lane redevelopment has been realised thanks to a £1.3m Arts Council England ‘Large Capital’ grant, £1.2m from the European Regional Development Fund, as well as support from Wakefield Council, which gave a 25-year lease for the building, which became empty in 2012 when the library’s contents were transferred to a new central library at the Wakefield One civic building. The Art House reopening follows the recent renovation of nearby Unity Hall in 2014 and the redevelopment of Wakefield Westgate train station in 2013.

To find out more about The Art House visit www.the-arthouse.org.uk 
 

Editors Notes

Media Information 

For more information, interviews and images please contact:
Hollie Latham                Helen Deevy
hollie@hollielatham.co.uk        helen@the-arthouse.org.uk 
07816 104483                01924 312000

Building tours of the Art House can be arranged on request.

Join us for the Art House reopening with Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council on Thursday 3 December at 6.30pm, the International day of people with disabilities.
 

Drury Lane Library 

Drury Lane Library was built in 1905 and opened in 1906 using funds provided by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who built four other libraries in the district at Castleford, Horbury, Normanton and Pontefract. Across Yorkshire, Carnegie libraries were erected in Swinton, Goole, Harrogate, Hull, Keighley, Rawmarsh, Shipley, and Sowerby Bridge. The restoration of the historic building follows the redevelopment of Unity Hall, a Grade II-listed former music hall that was built a year before the library and just metres away on Westgate, Wakefield. It re-opened in 2014 after a £4m refurbishment.
 

Project Space Exhibition 

Wakefield Industrial and Fine Art, 150 Years
Wallpaper installation by Fraser Muggeridge and Laura Slater

This exhibition pairs a unique hand-printed wallpaper by designers Laura Slater and Fraser Muggeridge with a selection of objects on loan from Wakefield Museum. The installation references the Wakefield Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition of 1865, one of many such exhibitions held nationally following the Great Exhibition of 1851 - the first international exhibition of manufactured goods - held in the magnificent Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park.

The Wakefield exhibition encouraged ‘Artisans, Mechanics, Manufacturers, Inventors, Artists, Scholars, and all Workpeople’ to make and submit for exhibition objects they had made themselves, celebrating the breadth of creativity and invention in the city. This exhibition is both a 150th anniversary tribute, and an exploration of what the spirit of the 1865 exhibition might mean to audiences today.

The Art House would like to thank Wakefield Museum for their kind support of the exhibition. This exhibition will remain a backdrop for activities taking place in the Project Space throughout 2016. For further information visit the Art House website www.arthouse.org.uk.
 

About The Art House 

The Art House is a registered charity (number 1063671) established in 1994 by a group of artists in response to the lack of facilities for disabled visual artists. The Art House provides studio space and, critically, the time, space and support to develop opportunities for artistic production and career progression. 

In the period 1994 – 2004, a small group of artists and arts professionals worked to secure funding for community arts projects, training events and artists’ residencies across Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Construction began in February 2007 on a new building in Wakefield, which included artists’ studios, accommodation, meeting rooms, community spaces and an office for The Art House team. In 2008, The Art House opened, with studios occupied by disabled and non-disabled artists. The Art House was exemplary in terms of accessibility for artists with physical disabilities and the core offer is to support artists in their development, provide creative spaces, mentoring and resources. Currently The Art House has over 200 artist members, many of whom define themselves as being disabled or having a life-limiting condition.

The reopened building adds 34 new studio spaces to the existing 14, provides a project space, meeting rooms and a print studio for artists and creative communities as well as opportunities for professional development and a rolling programme of artist residencies.

To find our more about the Art House, enquire about studio availability or to hire a meeting space please contact Helen Deevy, Information and Marketing Officer on 01924 312000, email info@the-arthouse.org.uk

The Art House is funded by Arts Council England and Wakefield Council.

The development of Drury Lane library is supported by European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England and Wakefield Council.