York Art Gallery re-opens this weekend after a two-year, £8m transformation. Overseen by architects Ushida Findlay, working with conservation specialists Simpson & Brown, the overhaul has given the gallery’s 19th century home 60 per cent more exhibition space. This includes a new mezzanine level in the roof space, under a gloriously restored vaulted Victorian ceiling, as well as another new gallery space taken up by the recently established Centre of Ceramic Art.
CoCA, as it has been tagged, houses 2,000 ceramic pieces, including works by Grayson Perry, Bernard Leach and Lucie Rie. Changing displays and exhibitions will showcase the gallery’s serious ceramics haul, including highlights of its 5,000-strong collection of British Studio Ceramics, the largest anywhere. It also houses a 17-metre long shelf, the 'wall of pots’, and a domestic set for the Anthony Shaw Collection, perhaps the most significant private collection of 20th century British ceramics.
The space opens with a specially commissioned new large scale work by ceramicist Clare Twomey. Manifest: Ten Thousand Hours, is made up of 10,000 identical slipcast ceramic bowls stacked into towering columns. The title, and the precarious form, allude to the somewhat shakey idea, as propagated by Malcolm Gladwell, that master craftsmanship requires 10,000 hours of practice.