Journey from old workshop to gallery
This building needs my love it called me to it wanting rescue from an uncertain fate but probably demolition and yet another block of flats. It has been looked after by a tenant business which has recently wound down to retirement. There has been a making business in this building for over one hundred years, builders, craftsmen, carpenters etc making quality wooden windows and doors for the last 40 of those years. Long ladders for the town steeple were kept here for many years and the building may stand on the site of a friary/monastery. The estimated build date for the building is 1880.
This unusual quirky building will set me many challenges I am sure. I am going to mould it into an accessible gallery to display art, paintings and sculptures to provide studio space for painting and sculpture to promote art, to involve the community in making art, to run workshops and talks exhibitions, fairs and competitions. To explore creative ideas, to run creative holidays and art as therapy.
I wanted to start this blog to share this ambitious venture with my friends, family and anyone who like myself has a fascination with transforming buildings. I would like to keep the soul of this unique building while preserving it and repurposing to go on another one hundred years. Re-use is better than recycle well that’s what I believe.
I plan to have solar power, paper bags as packaging, re-use of materials to create sculpture and art – racing ahead here – hard not to do. First, we have to rescue the building – you can see here lots of pictures of how the building is now I hope you can see why I have fallen for it. Planning to start at the front with a wider door for access a smart insulated gallery entrance and to ensure the buildings are watertight and any urgent work carried out immediately.
I have already had an asbestos survey and there is some of the less dangerous asbestos cladding & old asbestos chimney to remove, a local firm Roberts has quoted to take it away and a tree surgeon will be engaged to remove a sycamore tree which has self-seeded too close to the building and been allowed to grow for some years, these trees grow very fast! I will be leaving the other trees to grace the walled sculpture garden. I have discovered that this wood has been used traditionally to make bowling pins.
The ‘long gallery’ my name for the tiled roof veranda which runs almost the length of the garden – this structure needs a lot of work – to keep it up, to open it up and sort out the uneven earth floor for starters. I am going to be applying for grants to help pay for the big work needed and will to set up a friends of Bridgy Gallery so that people can support the project with gifts of materials to re-use, their time, money if they can spare some and most importantly cheer me on and add their ideas – every form of support will be welcome the building needs us, I am sure that this building will give much back to the community.
When will it open? Well, the plan is to open early 2021 devoting 2020 to the refurbishment and organisation of events – I will be looking for Artists and Sculptors who are ready to exhibit in the heart of the West Country. Bridgwater Somerset.