Heritage Open Days 2010: Ten tours behind the scenes in Art

By Mark Sheerin | 06 September 2010
A photo of a factory building with a glass atrium
Spike Island, Bristol© Adam Faraday
Modern and contemporary art may be recent developments compared with some heritage on offer this weekend in the UK, but Heritage Open Days still offers the chance to see a number of galleries in a fresh light.

There are building tours, collection talks, arty happenings and an architectural gem in rural Surrey. These are rare opportunities for some close up art history.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
, Gateshead, Thursday-Sunday

Those with an interest in flour and/or art can enjoy an architectural tour of BALTIC. In the 1950s the leading international gallery was a mill owned by Rank Hovis. Said to be haunted, it is also the site of Tyneside's 1854 Great Fire.

The Art of Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield


A police training room is not an obvious place to screen a documentary on modernist sculpture, but there you have it. This special showing of a 50-minute film about Barbara Hepworth explores the work and ideas of the Wakefield-born artist.

University of Hull Art Collection Tour, Hull, Friday

When this University Gallery bought up its stock during the 1960s, British art from 1890 to 1940 was considered most ungroovy. Collections Director John Bernasconi explains how cheaply acquired artists such as Sickert have come back into vogue.

Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, Sunday

There’s a chance to help build a Magic Greenhouse in a city allotment with artists-in-residence brook & black. Lenthall Road Allotments are also celebrating their summer party so bring food and drink, along with any spare bamboo canes.

Spike Island, Bristol, Saturday

Some 80,000 sq. ft. of a former tea packing plant await your visit at Spike Island. The galleries, studios and café were all redesigned in 2007 by architect Caruso St. John, and can this Saturday be enjoyed on hourly guided tours.

University of Essex Latin American Art Collection, Colchester, Saturday

Europe’s only public collection of modern and contemporary art from Latin America is available for viewing in Colchester. Turn up at the campus at Wivenhoe Park for a 30-minute guided tour of the library and iconic Hexagon building.

Turner Contemporary: Pop Up Exhibition, Margate, Thursday

Margate is holding a Swap Shop style event aimed at artists and their kids. Daisy is your host and she will be exchanging copies of the Trillo Times, her illustrated newspaper, for whatever non-monetary currency your little ones can rustle up.

White House, Haslemere, Friday and Sunday

If European modernism was imported into Britain by the architect Amyas Connell, this 1932 house was a herald of its arrival. One of the first buildings to use precast concrete, this two storey suburban home is now Grade II*-listed.

HOUSE @41 Kensington Place, Brighton, Friday and Saturday

This event is a reprise of Brighton HOUSE festival which showcased local, national and international artists in domestic settings around the city. Here Jayne Eagle responds to a Victorian family who once lived in a house in the bustling North Laine.

The Drawing Tent, Hastings, Sunday

English Heritage have been using the arts as a way to engage the people of Hastings with the coastal town’s past. This weekend artist Sally Booth helps out by creating a Drawing Tent on the sea front. All are invited to come along and make their mark.

Want more? Visit our guide to science at Heritage Open Days.

Heritage Open Days 2010 runs from September 9-12. For more information on these and all other events visit the festival website.


Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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