The John Hansard Gallery has been officially opened in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter with an inaugural headline exhibition of works by Gerhard Richter. The city-centre Gallery will dramatically increase opportunities for the public to experience and be inspired by great art, as well as for creative collaboration with its new cultural neighbours in Studio 144 – City Eye and Nuffield Southampton Theatres.
At the opening event, Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England said: “The opening of John Hansard Gallery is a milestone for Southampton. It represents a big step forward, bringing together the council, university and arts community into the heart of the city and its new cultural quarter. People in this city deserve to have their lives enriched by art and culture, and institutions like this can have a transformational effect on people’s lives”.
GHA acted as lead consultant, and were responsible for defining the requirements for the building shell and the internal fit out for the Gallery which forms part of the University of Southampton, supported by the Arts Council of England. The new buildings and retail complex were designed by CZWG Architects.
In a review of the exhibiton, The Observer’s Laura Cumming writes “This new gallery’s well-designed interior does justice to the German art star – and extends Britain’s arty south coast. The interior of the new JHG is as well suited to contemporary art as anything launched in those two decades, from the Turner Contemporary in Margate to the Jerwood in Hastings. There is underfloor heating for cold weather, a vividly appealing children’s suite and panoramic windows in two spaces to lure a curious public in from the main boulevard outside. The decor is standard white cube – polished concrete, glass, steel and selected Scandinavian wood floors – but the configuration of galleries is excellent. Small rooms open into larger galleries and finally into a colossal double-height prism of a space with picture windows the size of a multiplex screen overlooking the wide piazza below. Crowds gather and disperse, children run, skateboarders race across the pale Portland stone to the colonnaded Guildhall opposite. It’s like being in a box at some vast public theatre.”
The exhibition includes significant examples selected from Richter’s wide-ranging practice over the five decades, including painting, photography, print and tapestry and runs until the 18th August.