If You Build It, Will They Come? From Bilbao to Hastings

Fri 20 July 2012 6.30pm

  • Jerwood Gallery, photograph courtesy of Ioana Marinescu

'If You Build It' is a new thematic series of Architecture + Art discussions exploring the confluence of architecture and art as agents of urban change in newly built gallery and museum projects across the world. Asking questions - such as 'can a museum 'make a city?', 'who are the new museums for?', and 'what is an appropriate architecture for a forward thinking art institution?' - the series is programmed in response to the explosion of new galleries that have opened across the UK in recent years, from David Chipperfield's Turner Contemporary to Rafael Vinoly's firstsite.

'From Bilbao to Hastings' opened the series off-site in Hastings, with a critical examination of the role of UK arts institutions and culture in providing a sense of civic identity and stimulating urban renaissance. The event included a special tour of the recently opened Jerwood by its architects, HAT Projects.

Since the Guggenheim’s Spanish launch in 1997, ‘The Bilbao Effect’ has been much discussed, and emulated, as a template for urban renewal, despite its dismissal by the museum’s architect, Frank Gehry. In the past few years a multitude of bold and impressive new regional galleries have opened in the UK – from Nottingham Contemporary through to the Hepworth Wakefield and Turner Contemporary. These were preceded on the eve of the millennium by two new British galleries – Milton Keynes Gallery and the New Art Gallery Walsall – which opened to wide acclaim, putting their regional towns on the cultural map and inserting art into the two towns’ civic identities.

This event looked to put the knowledge gained by these millennial projects into public discussion with the current crop of the UK’s contemporary arts centres, and to examine the role of arts institutions and culture in providing civic identity and urban renaissance.

Speakers included Peter Jenkinson (cultural broker and first director of The New Art Gallery Walsall), Donna Lynas (Artistic director, Wysing Arts Centre), Victoria Pomery (director, Turner Contemporary), and architects of the Jerwood Hastings, HAT Projects.

The conversation was chaired by architectural writer and broadcaster, Tom Dyckhoff (The Guardian, The Times, Secret Life of Buildings, The Culture Show).

The series will return in the autumn with two further events at Tate Modern.

There was also an opportunity to see the Gary Hume exhibition. Hume was the winner of the Jerwood Painting Prize in 1997 and was elected as a Royal Academician in 2001. The exhibition entitled Gary Hume: Flashback, organised by the Arts Council, featured a range of paintings and sculptures produced by the Turner Prize-nominated artist.