Following the success of last years Pop Art in Print, an exhibition of artworks loaned from the Victoria and Albert museum’s collection, Chester Visual Arts return at the end of the month with another pop up exhibition. Again occupying the old library space, whilst we await the Northgate development, The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize consists of 12 distinctive and memorable works. All of the pieces were shortlisted for a prize commissioned to celebrate 70 years of BBC Woman’s Hour.
Cynthia and Ian Short, of Chester Visual Arts chatted to us about the exhibition, building on the success of Pop Art in Print, and their future plans, including their ultimate aim of establishing a permanent gallery for the city.
“It exceeded all expectations for the V&A and ourselves.” says Cynthia. ” I read a recent article about “The V&A effect” and what that does for cities. Its happening in Dundee right now. Its bringing the footfall to these places. The Pop Art exhibition had 15,000 visitors and it was quite exciting, all the feedback has gone back to the London office. We’re also looking at the region where Chester sits alongside Liverpool and Manchester, and the V&A have committed to a 3-5 year programme, when we have a venue!
Ian commented that the V&A were very impressed overall , given that it was the first pop up exhibition they had done, as usually work goes into established galleries. Pop Art in Print also helped to galvanise a pool of volunteers and artists in the community, as well as the beginnings of a schools programme “because it was clear there was an appetite that schools want to bring students here and have culture in their lives”.
The 12 pieces that make up the new exhibition are likely to “be loved, and disliked and possibly a bit in-between” joked Ian. Previously on display in Bristol, the Craft Prize attracted 25,000 visitors. .
As CVA look to build their audience, entrance will remain free but fundraising for future projects remains a key priority for the team. The good news is that CVA have recently been awarded charity status , meaning they can now apply for funding via grants. The V&A are giving their full support to the team as long as a venue is available, with the council allowing use of the building until July. Says Cynthia : “We’re really grateful to the council for recognising that this is something they want to see happening in the city. The V&A have given us other options to look at for the spring/summer, dependant on funding”
The event runs from Friday 30th November until 16 March 2019, Open Wed til Sat 11-5. Closed 16 Dec to 8 Jan. Donations welcome