Transformation of King’s Lynn 1930s building into art gallery takes giant step forward

Sam O'Callaghan with the Winlove Building in Purfleet St, King's Lynn which is due to become the GroundWork Gallery. ANL-160704-112802009
Sam O'Callaghan with the Winlove Building in Purfleet St, King's Lynn which is due to become the GroundWork Gallery. ANL-160704-112802009
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The transformation of what was a disused building for decades in Lynn town centre into an art gallery moved a stage further last week with the arrival of giant building materials.

Known as the Winlove Building in Purfleet Street, once home to a carpentry business and later used to store classic cars, the premises are now undergoing a major overhaul carried out by the Norfolk Building Company.

The property is set to become the GroundWork Gallery, which will house contemporary art exhibitions and is due to open its doors in July.

Last Thursday saw the arrival of giant roof timbers which were brought in by crane and lowered into place.

Said owner of the building, Dr Veronica Sekules, of Great Dunham: “This was a significant step in the project. During the next two weeks the electrical work is due to be carried out. At the front of the building openings have been knocked through – the windows were completely rotten and had to be replaced, like for like. There will be two doors leading onto the street, one will be used for goods and the other will be the gallery entrance.”

Dr Sekules, who was formerly head of education and research at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, bought the 1937 building more than two years ago after it had stood empty for 20 years. After a long planning process she is now looking forward to realising her ambition of creating exhibition space in the historic centre of Lynn, just across the street from the town’s iconic Custom House.

She said: “I would like the gallery to bring a contemporary focus to the town where we look at the role of art in relation to the environment, which we need to care for.

“That building stands in the flood plain and Lynn is somewhat under threat from the environment and climate change. I am keen that we should look positively at that.”

The exhibitions held at the gallery are set to look at how art can encourage people to respond to a changing world and imagine how it can be shaped.

The first exhibition entitled Sunlight and Gravity, due to open on July 16, features the work of two life-long friends of Dr Sekules, Richard Long, of Bristol, a scupltor and land artist, and Norfolk artist Roger Ackling, who died two years ago from motor neurone disease. One of Richard’s works, a slate circle, can be found in the grounds of Houghton Hall.

Said Dr Sekules: “Both artists use the environment in a subtle way, neither of them use their hands directly. Roger created his work by using a magnifying glass held in sunlight to burn and create exquisite designs. And Richard will be using mud from the River Great Ouse by ‘pulling’ it and letting it fall naturally when designing his work, hence the exhibition’s title, Sunshine and Gravity.”