Largest GIS space in the southwest

In the world of museums and art galleries, GIS is a term which is given to exhibition space that has highest standards and best conditions. A city which has a GIS space could host some of the country’s most prized art collections and touring exhibitions.

Plymouth City Council has now revealed that the developing plans for the History Centre include the aspiration to create the largest GIS space in the Southwest.

The renovation of St Luke’s Chapel in Tavistock place could see the building converted into what some people are calling Plymouth’s equivalent to the Turbine Hall, a visual art gallery similar to the Tate Modern in London.

In this space it would then be possible to borrow and display artefacts such as Dippy the Natural History Museum’s famous dinosaur, or works from the Royal Collection.

Paul Brookes, Programme Director for the History Centre said: “The History Centre will be a world class cultural resource with heritage and art at its core; a creative catalyst for the arts sector and the heart of Plymouth’s dynamic visual arts ecology”.

With an ambition that is much broader than the boundaries of the History Centre walls, and with a drive to support the progression of artists, the plan is to develop a 10-year city-wide visual arts strategy that is created by the visual arts sector.

Plymouth City Council is currently working with Plymouth Culture (an independent agency dedicated to supporting Plymouth’s cultural development) and workshops are already taking place with the visual arts community.  Partners and cultural groups such as Visual Arts Plymouth, the Cultural and Arts Network, Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth College of Art, KARST and Effervescent, along with individual artists are already involved.

Dominic Jinks Executive Director of Plymouth Culture explained: “The development of the History Centre is a crucial element in our plans for visual art across the city.  But it is just one part of the story. What is clear to see is the momentum which is gathering behind the sector and the desire to forge strong visual arts partnerships that will put Plymouth on the map.”

The History Centre’s partnership with Plymouth Culture and Peninsula Arts, which currently hosts a key contemporary arts space, is one of those developing relationships that will form the backbone of the city’s contemporary art.

As a member of Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (Edited: Peninsula Arts) has already enabled exhibitions such as (Edited: Encountering) Reynolds, British Art Show 7, Sinopticon, Artists Make Faces, Peter Randall-Page and the Walk-On exhibition, to reach new audiences in Plymouth and it is hoped that the development of the History Centre will enable this to continue on an even bigger and grander scale.

The History Centre’s partnership with Plymouth Culture and Peninsula Arts, which currently hosts a key contemporary arts space in the city, is one of those developing relationships that will form the backbone of the city’s offering of contemporary arts.

Sarah Chapman Director of Peninsula Arts said: “What is particularly exciting about this partnership – which will bring together the international networks with the expertise of a university, and a regional museum with nationally significant collections – is the opportunity to explore the relationship between past and present.”

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is working with Peninsula Arts and other arts organisations in the City to develop a ground breaking contemporary arts programme that seeks to draw on these ideas:  Showcasing the very latest developments and innovations, whilst provoking important questions about the future.

The programme will provide a series of commissioning opportunities, inviting international and local artists to respond to Plymouth’s rich history and the special collections from Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.  It is hoped that this will result in new perspectives and imaginative ways of interpreting the past and build on the national New Expressions commissioning programme that Plymouth is currently leading.

These aspirations were included in the original bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, for funding towards the History Centre.  As part of this partnership the bid expressed Plymouth’s desire to create the largest GIS exhibition space in the SW and to enable the partnership to bring visual art that is normally only seen in London to Plymouth.

St Luke’s Chapel in Tavistock Place would provide the space and a sympathetic restoration would create a superbly blended historic and contemporary gallery and project space , mirroring the aspirations of the History Centre, celebrating our past while looking to our future.

Plymouth City Council’s Deputy Leader Peter Smith said: “We are now working with exhibition designers Event Communications to develop some early concept designs which is a huge piece of work.  We are inviting the public to join us on twitter and Facebook and to express their interest in the History Centre now. We want to engage the public in the development process as we launch our various plans, consultations and activities over the next three years.”

Engaging Plymothians in visual arts as part of the History Centre will become an important part of the development of the project and will strengthen the commitment Peninsula Arts have already made to engaging under-represented groups within the culture and a learning environment.  This includes groups such as children in care /care leavers, BME, disability groups, home learners and young offenders. They also have a huge schools network from Bristol to Cornwall.

The next big in the visual arts calendar at the moment is the very first Plymouth Contemporary Open, which Peninsula Arts and Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery launched on 12 July.  Leading artists from the across the UK and Europe will be showing works.  More than 1000 submissions were received for the exhibition, with the final list of 25 artists to be displayed in the Peninsula Arts Gallery at Plymouth University until 30 August.

The City Museum & Art Gallery also has a major contemporary art commission called ‘Heavy Rock’. It’s being produced by Plymouth-based artist, Keith Harrison and is part of the New Expressions programme.

Contact us @loveourpast –

(Video about our aspirations for the History Centre – http://https// )