Art daytrip - Pallant
House Gallery, Chichester
When London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics, my
enthusiasm was rather muted. Whilst it was billed as a national
‘success’, I couldn’t help thinking that
the only place that would really benefit was London. Therefore,
when I was invited to the press preview of the opening of
a new gallery at Pallant House in Chichester, I was delighted
at the prospect of a venture that had all the cultural prestige
of London and the potential to redirect the blinkered glare
of national attention.
At just over an hour from Lewes, the journey to Chichester
is a comparable distance to London, although significantly
cheaper. A short walk from the station takes you to Pallant
House, with its grand Queen Anne frontage which now sits adjoined
to the new contemporary gallery extension. It is, of course,
no mean feat to have secured planning permission which allows
such a controversial pairing and it was not met without opposition.
But Pallant House has been founded on controversy. It became
an art gallery when the patron Walter Hussey left his entire
collection on condition that the function of the building
was changed from council offices. Thirty years later the decision
to build a contemporary extension was ‘greatly influenced’
by the promise of ‘Sandy’ Wilson to leave his
collection if there was a contemporary space to house it.
With the biggest collection of modern art outside the Tate
including Peter Blake, Lucian Freud and Patrick Caulfield,
the new improved Pallant House deserves to be seen in person.
It opens to the public on July 1st. ER