Bradford's Cartwright Hall Opens Its Community Focussed Art Galleries

By Culture24 Staff | 16 October 2008
a photograph of a man in front of warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe

Courtesy Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery has officially opened its newly refurbished and redeveloped upper galleries to the public with Connect, a new permanent exhibition housed within its landmark Edwardian building.

The new exhibition makes connections between works from different cultures and times and combines over two hundred Eastern and Western works of art displayed within the themes of People, Place and Imagination.

Featuring a collection that includes paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings, textiles, glass and ceramics, Connect showcases key works by an impressive roster of artists including David Hockney, LS Lowry, Joshua Reynolds, Andy Warhol, Sylvat Aziz, Bridget Riley and Jamni Roy.

An accompanying acquisitions programme has also added 50 news works by artists such as Paula Rego, Damien Hirst, Yinka Shonibare, Chris Ofili and Arpana Caur.

a photograph of a man and woman looking at a Hockney painting

Courtesy Cartwright Hall

Free from the restrictions of being bound by particular periods or genres, the redeveloped spaces display the artworks across all mediums together to illustrate a particular theme. Interactive touch screens explore connections between the artworks and spotlight key works.

“The range of stories within Connect is incredibly rich,” said Nima Poovaya-Smith, Connect Project Director. “Through the juxtaposition of works whose connections may not be immediately obvious, other narratives are allowed to surface that go beyond straight art history and allow for the succinct telling of complex tales demonstrating different kinds of cultural confluence.”

Consultation has been an integral part of the project with focus groups of visitors working with the gallery to shape the way it was designed and as a result, local Bradford Connections are very much at the heart of the new collection display.

a photograph of a family looking at a large Victorian painting

Courtesy Cartwright Hall

A successful Young Ambassadors scheme was also set up, which allowed 20 young people to input into the project. The youngsters acted as guides and networked with other groups whilst gaining an insight into how a gallery operates.

The idea was to work with a range of local people to reflect the nature of the population in Bradford and bring the museum collection to life in interesting and engaging ways.

A result of this community focussed approach is that the team at the gallery has put in place a long-term focussed audience engagement programme, involving education, outreach, curatorial and grass roots expertise.

a photograph of a man and a woman sat on a bench in a gallery

Courtesy Cartwright Hall

The opening of Connect is the culmination of a £1.98 million Capital project for Bradford Council’s Museum, Galleries and Heritage and was made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Renaissance Yorkshire, Alchemy, DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Museums and Galleries Improvement Funds, Friends of Bradford Museums, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and The Idlewild Trust.

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