The Hatton Gallery Reopens to a Positive Reception

Ciara Ritson-Courtney reviews the newly reopened Hatton Gallery.

Ciara Ritson-Courtney
18th October 2017
Image: Louise Hall

Newcastle University’s art gallery ‘The Hatton Gallery’ has finally reopened and has left students breathless. The gallery was originally founded by the King Edward VII School of art in 1925 and its influence has been monumental in both the art scene of the north east and globally.

The redevelopment began in February 2016 and has taken 20 months and £3.8million to complete, but it hasn't failed to impress.

The redevelopment began in February 2016 and has taken 20 months and £3.8 million to complete, but it hasn’t failed to impress. The Heritage Lottery Fund who saw the venue fit for their investment supported the redevelopment. The Hatton Gallery has a rich past of art, including the first exhibition of Richard Hamilton’s seminal Man, Machine and Motion in 1955. This piece went on to be displayed at the ICA on the Mall and has been claimed to be the start of pop art in Britain.

The redevelopment involved the conservation of historic and architectural elements of the building, which is Grade II listed, while incorporating modern elements to reflect the gallery’s cutting edge exhibitions.

The picture store has been extended to preserve the Hatton’s extensive collection and a dedicated multipurpose learning space was added to increase public engagement with collections and archives.

The funding also enabled the conservation of the iconic 1965 piece Merz Barn Wall by Kurt Schwitters who has been acclaimed to be one of the most significant figures in 20th century art. The piece is located at the epicentre of the Gallery and is a three dimensional collage and the artist claims ‘all it is, is form and colour, just form and colour.

The Hatton’s collection, while being instrumental in 20th century art, includes over 3,000 works in total ranging from the 14th to the 20th century in various media.

The school of fine art has a huge influence upon the Gallery with many archived pieces being those of art students and exhibition posters designed by the school.

However, life for the Hatton hasn’t always been easy and this isn’t the first time the public has invested in the gallery. In 1997 the University authorities voted to close the gallery, a widespread public campaign against the closure and a £250,000 investment by Dame Catherine Cookson ensured the future of the gallery.

The Gallery is free to enter while donations are welcome, and will be exhibiting ‘Pioneers of Pop’ which includes around 100 works of pop and abstract art in various media until January 2018.

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