From Llandudno to Stromness: 10 of the Best Hidden Art Galleries | Art and design
Britain’s medieval churches are the country’s oldest art galleries, where peasants and lords once pondered the latest depictions of hell. Salisbury, like other cathedrals across the country, has an ambitious program of contemporary art among its skeletal effigies and soaring vaults, including an Antony Gormley, as part of a major contemporary show for its 800th anniversary this year, spirit and effort.
The Cornish town of St Ives is as famous for modern art as it is for pastries. From the Tate St Ives to Barbara Hepworth’s studio, the place is a seaside monument to a lost era of British modernism. But Anima Mundi adds a welcome contemporary touch. Its vibrant program of graffiti-flavored paintings takes St Ives from the mid-20th century into the 21st.
The fascinating and apocalyptic art of John Martin is a highlight of this excellent gallery. Martin was a Victorian polymath who dabbled in engineering and drew some of the earliest reconstructions of Jurassic creatures. Woodcuts by Thomas Bewick and portraits by Reynolds also stand out in clever displays of old and new art at the Laing.
The fascinating Wallace Collection is understated compared to London’s fancier pop museums. Still, it has one of the sexiest collections in Europe (if your idea of sexy is a most arousingly painted nude by Fragonard or Boucher). It also features works by the great 18th century artist Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.
Going against the tide of fashion and public relations thinking, this excellent gallery celebrated Hull’s recent year as a city of culture by purchasing, not a Grayson Perry, but a painting by the 14th-century Sienese master. Pietro Lorenzetti. He also organized a highly successful Turner Prize exhibition.
This Orkney art hub has a fine collection of early 20th-century British art whose sea-swept modernist gloom suits its location on an actual pier perfectly. Downstairs on the ‘ground floor’, the cold sea is close to the atmosphere as you discover contemporary art, from photogravures by Olafur Eliasson to photos of Scotland by Martin Parr.
Llandudno may be a genteel seaside town, but it has a cutting-edge gallery that showcases a rigorous and ambitious mix of Welsh and global contemporary art. Her current exhibition of light assemblages by Athena Papadopoulos, which questions gender and identity, is exactly the kind of unexpected art you can expect to find here.
The Albert Dock branch of the Tate draws attention, but Liverpool’s real artistic gem is its old museum, home to a large collection ranging from medieval genius Simone Martini to one of David Hockney’s most gleefully homoerotic works. The current exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photographs characterizes her lively and fun exhibits.
One of Scotland’s most ambitious commercial galleries, this cool, urban outfit is probably the best place to catch up with Glasgow’s energetic art scene, while other artists represented by the Modern Institute include Jeremy Deller and Urs Fischer. It also has a second site for longer term projects by the likes of Richard Wright.
Petworth, West Sussex
No less an authority than John Constable has called this National Trust property “the home of art” and, as well as beautiful views, it houses a collection to rank with the great museums, from Bosch’s Adoration of the Magi to Visions of William Blake. The star is JMW Turner, whose studio is preserved with a collection of some of his greatest lightscapes.