For many private art collections, private is the operative word. But for Sir James and Lady Deirdre Dyson, it’s time their impressive collection came up for air, and free public appreciation. The family has just announced plans to build a new pavilion gallery in the grounds of their home in the Cotswolds.

The proposed gallery, which has just been submitted for planning approval, has been designed by Wilkinson Eyre architects and will be sited on the northern edge of the Dysons’ sprawling Dodington Park home in South Gloucestershire, a stone’s throw from the current Dyson HQ.

The entrance of the Dysons’ planned gallery which will house their extensive modern art collection 

The estate’s palatial main house, built in the 18th century, is Grade I listed. Even the grounds – which span 300 acres and were originally laid out by Capability Brown in 1764 – boast a Grade II listing, including the ancient brick wall which will encircle the proposed art space.

The structure will be, in the words of architect Chis Wilkinson, ‘low key’: modern, discreet and in tune with its neighbouring architecture. It will comprise two floors (ground and basement) and feature angular exterior steel columns clad in bronze to echo the tone of the surrounding brick. The overhanging diagrid roof will be carpeted in sedum plants to minimise environmental intrusion. It will be free for the public to visit (albeit on limited days of the year), but pre-booking is essential.  

For industrial designer and inventor James Dyson, whose business success began with a bagless vacuum and resulted in a multi-billion pound empire, art appreciation is deep-rooted – he himself was once an aspiring painter. The same can be said for his wife, Deirdre Dyson, an accomplished artist and carpet designer in her own right. The pair met in 1966 while studying at London’s Byam Shaw School of Art (James later studied furniture design at the Royal College of Art) and have since amassed a star-studded array of painting and sculpture, with Pop Art as a recurring theme. 

Interior plan of new Dyson gallery in South Gloucestershire which will house works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso
Inside the Dyson gallery space which will host works by David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol

Inside the proposed gallery space in the grounds of Dodington Park, which will house works by the likes of David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol

Among the works are Roy Lichtenstein’s Crying Girl (1963), a late Andy Warhol print from his Toy Series (1983), Peter Blake’s Twins in the Tea Garden (1999) and David Hockney’s Domestic Interior Scene, Broadchalke, Wiltshire (1963). The roll call continues with Pablo Picasso, Yves Klein, Victor Vasarely, painted steel sculptures by Allen Jones and even more Hockneys. ‘The most vibrant and significant period in British Pop Art came from the Royal College of Art in the first half of the Sixties and the collection is clearly informed by this,’ explains Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of London’s Design Museum. ‘It is wide-ranging and personal but also has an underlying coherence and quality.’

Dodington Art Gallery, which is slated for completion in 2021, is a project reinforced by good intentions: sustainable construction, sensitivity to its surroundings and the promise of free public access to a collection of art Marlow describes as ‘compelling and important’. §

Entrance to the planned Dyson gallery which will house the family’s art collection
The entrance of the Dysons’ planned gallery in South Gloucestershire, designed by London-based Wilkinson Eyre