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Penarth Town Mayor Reopens Turner House Gallery


Penarth’s Town Mayor Cllr. Ian Buckley reopened the Turner House Gallery to the public yesterday, after its redevelopment by the Penarth Town Council.

The historic art gallery has recently undergone a bit of a transformation, bringing a modern look to both the gallery building itself and the imaging and branding used to promote the space. Penarth Town Council worked alongside Amgueddfa Cymru over the last 18 months, creating the image and shaping the space with the aim of celebrating the building’s history as a high-quality community arts venue.

Now, following a forced closure due to Covid-19 and the aforementioned redevelopment, the Turner Gallery has been able to open to the public again.

The first exhibition to be held in the new space is “The BFG In Pictures” curated by Roald Dahl’s long-time illustrator, Quentin Blake.

Penarth’s Turner House will welcome a BFG exhibition, curated by Roald Dahl’s long-time illustrator, Quentin Blake, from May 9th to May 31st.

The exhibition will feature artwork not used when the beloved children’s book was first published in 1982 alongside reproductions of the final pieces that graced the pages of the book which featured the story of an orphan, Sophie and her adventures with the Snozcumber-loving, dream-catching, Big Friendly Giant.

Quentin Blake, the artist behind the illustrations of some of Roald Dahl’s most famous literary creations said of the exhibition:

“Roald Dahl and I were brought together by our publisher in the 1970s. Roald was an extraordinarily interesting person and a man of action, which is why he was so good at telling stories. He liked to tell stories about things happening, rather than about what people are (were?) thinking or feeling, which was wonderful for me to draw. Roald’s The BFG was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1982 in a hardback edition for which I did black-and-white illustrations and a design in colour for the cover. Since then the BFG and Sophie have appeared in a variety of books and situations. For this exhibition I have selected images from different versions of the BFG, starting with my first illustrations which remained unpublished for thirty years.”

Penarth Town Mayor said of the reopening and the exhibition:
“It’s just brilliant to get The Turner House back open. The arts and culture have always been good in Penarth, so to be able to showcase not just national and international artists but local artists too, and workshops, is amazing.”
“I’m looking forward to bringing my grandkids here, especially showing them Quentin Blake’s step-by-step drawings of the BFG.”

In a post on their website sharing the news of the reopening, Penarth Town Council said of the space:

“With some fantastic exhibitions planned, The Turner House is likely to become one of the top cultural destinations in the region. Exhibitions are free, with a changing programme that showcases the best national touring shows alongside local artists and makers.”

Turner House was opened in 1888 to exhibit the collection of Penarth flour merchant, James Pyke Thompson. Artworks in this collection included drawings, etchings, and ceramics, by artists including Rembrandt, Dante Rossetti and J. M. W. Turner, after which the gallery was named. Pyke Thompson wanted to share his art collection as he believed that having access to art improved our collective wellbeing. He also felt that people should visit galleries and museums on Sunday at a time when only churches and chapels were open. So Pyke Thompson deliberately arranged for the Turner House to open every Sunday.

Turner House Gallery was subsequently acquired by the National Museum of Wales in 1921 and used to display the museum’s secondary public art collection until 2003 when Ffotogallery took up residence as a base for contemporary photographic exhibitions until their departure in 2016

As the new custodians of the venue, Penarth Town Council have said that they are committed to continuing the legacy of The Turner House Gallery and re-establishing it as a central space in the provision of the arts for Penarth and beyond.

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