As a first-year undergraduate who loves all things eyebrow-raisingly artistic, learning that there was a gallery on campus at Newcastle University was a contributor to my decision to apply.
So understandably, a VIP invitation to the reopening of the Hatton gallery after a £3.8 million, two-year closure for refurbishment, had me donning my posh coat with excitement.
Given the gallery's small capacity, the VIP opening was reserved primarily for those who participated in, funded, or contributed art to the renovation. Nevertheless, a group of students did attend the gallery opening along with their red wine-sipping arty elders, and given the gallery's brilliantly convenient campus location, no doubt many more students will continue to visit in the future.
The students I spoke to seemed hopeful for future collaboration with the gallery after being informed of the further archive access, and the new multi-purpose learning space dedicated to them and the public.
Other attendees called the revamped gallery ‘inviting, clear and bright’ compared to the ‘unloved’ feeling the gallery had prior to the refurbishment. Kate Stephenson, wife of the late artist Ian Stephenson, featured in the new ‘Pioneers of Pop’ exhibition, felt the refurbishment now showcased her husband’s work very successfully.
‘What delights me most of all, is that the Hatton has been returned to the state we knew when we were students here’ she pronounces, her friend and fellow student of artist Richard Hamilton nodding her agreement.
But the elements of collage and pop culture in ‘Pioneers of Pop’ can also appeal to students, a generation marinated in the effects pop artists had on today’s visual culture. So, if you like the sound of art described by Hamilton as ‘young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business’, or you’d like to see the results of this £3.8 million for yourself, the Hatton is definitely the place.