|Expansion plans for Wales's leading contemporary art gallery have received a massive boost with the announcement by The Arts Council of Wales of a Â£2.6 million capital Lottery award.
Described in The Guardian as one of the most adventurous contemporary art venues in the country, Oriel Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno will nearly double its exhibition space, enabling it to present major exhibitions of Welsh and international art and to show major works from the National Museum to audiences in north Wales, making it one of north Wales's top attractions.
The expansion will give Oriel Mostyn three new exhibition spaces; a dedicated area for hands-on activities with school, college and community groups; a meeting room/auditorium available for use by groups; a cafÃÂ©; additional space for the Gallery's noted craft shop; and storage and handling facilities allowing the Gallery to borrow works from major collections. There will be full disabled access to all areas of the building. Highlights of the proposals include a spacious new exhibition gallery lit by natural light, the sheathing of the building's tower in gold-coloured shingles to make it a Llandudno landmark, and the complete refurbishment of the existing terracotta faÃÂ§ade, cast iron canopy, and finely-proportioned original top-lit galleries built in 1901.
The Mostyn Art Gallery was established in 1901 by Lady Augusta Mostyn to show the work of the Gwynedd Ladies Art Society, making it the first gallery in the world built specifically to show the work of women artists. It closed when the building was requisitioned for use as a drill hall during the First World War, and only reopened as an art gallery in August 1979.
The award was announced today at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Ruthin by Alun Pugh AM, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport. Alun Pugh said:
Oriel Mostyn has well and truly established itself on the map in terms of contemporary arts, and is one of a growing number of exciting cultural venues emerging all over Wales. This Lottery award is an exciting new development for the people of Llandudno and north Wales and for the arts in Wales.
Construction work is planned to begin early next year and the Gallery will reopen in spring 2008. Lead architect for the project is Dominic Williams of Cheshire-based ellis williams architects, who is best known for designing the Baltic Centre in Gateshead.
The Gallery still has to raise a further ÃÂ£1 million for the project to go ahead. Director Martin Barlow, commented: "This is great news for Oriel Mostyn and its many followers. We have a fantastic opportunity now to develop our audiences and reputation further and to offer the very best in Welsh and international art to the people of Wales, in particular the large numbers of people from north Wales who visit our exhibitions. We still have a large fundraising challenge but this award gives us confidence that we will be successful."
Peter Tyndall, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Wales, said: "Oriel Mostyn is one of the key elements of The Arts Council of Wales's strategy for the Visual Arts. It is one of our leading regional contemporary art galleries and I am delighted that we have been able to support its development, so that it can properly fulfil its potential.
"I would like to congratulate Martin Barlow and his colleagues at the Gallery for their work in developing the project to this stage.
The expansion has received expressions of support from numerous local sources, including Betty Williams, MP for Conwy, and Denise Idris Jones, AM for the same constituency. Denise Idris Jones AM said: "Oriel Mostyn is one of my favourite places and I am delighted that the Gallery's expansion is finally taking shape. I warmly endorse this development and look forward to seeing it completed as soon as possible."