Chichester's Oxmarket Gallery confirms reopening date

Major refurbishment works will have transformed Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery in good time for its planned April 13 reopening.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 12:05 pm
Sophie Hull
Sophie Hull

Substantial work at the gallery – improving the entrance area, the flow of the gallery and its heating amongst other things – should be completed by mid-March, allowing the gallery team to focus on the exhibition programme ahead and also to complete the fund-raising to cover the improvements.

It all adds up to an exciting new future for the gallery, with the refurbishment fortuitously coinciding with what has turned out to be another lockdown.

Oxmarket chairman Sophie Hull is aiming for an official high-profile relaunch exhibition in May with artists including Philip Jackson and Catherine Barnes, celebrating a remarkable turnaround.

“We are going to have an enormous, beautiful entrance area that will be an exhibition space, and you will walk through. The flow of the gallery will be so much better as you move seamlessly on a journey from room to room uninterrupted.

“At the moment you go in and then out and then in and then out again. Now you will be able to go around the whole gallery without going in and out at all, a complete flow.

“It was all long overdue. It was definitely needed. People could walk by the gallery without knowing there was anything in there to visit. Now we have got the most stunning outside door. It just shouts ‘Look in here! Come in and see!’ It is just really amazing. I have to admit that I am absolutely thrilled.”

The signage outside has been significantly improved – and with time, the signage will be added to further.

“And inside, the walls, rather than the ordinary white, are the most beautiful light shade of grey. There are some very elegant warm contemporary greys around… and the piece de resistance are the heaters – amazing state-of-the-art heaters that warm the air around you specifically.”

The cost of it all increased when necessary work on the fabric of the building emerged, but Sophie is looking at an overall cost of around £200,000: “We still need more money. We have got to find another £30-40,000.”

Sophie would be delighted to receive donations to the cause through:

“Because of Covid, we have been very limited, but we actually have done very well. Chichester District Council and the City Council have been very supportive from the outset, but most of the money came from our Philip Jackson exhibition (last autumn). It brought in a very significant proportion of what we have raised.”

It will all give the gallery a much higher profile, with the gallery taking its place alongside all the Chichester attractions. Sophie will also be aiming to team up with The Barn in Little London nearby: “People will be able to come to Chichester, visit the Oxmarket, visit the cathedral and have something to eat at The Barn.”

Inevitably it will also impact on the exhibitions the Oxmarket will be able to have: “We are going to be able to have even more exciting exhibitions and even more variety of art, and we are hoping to become better known than we have ever been. We will be able to have workshops and we will be able to use the enhanced facilities more for schools and universities. We will be able to have more events.”