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Beecroft Launch
Saturday 2nd August 2014

Art gets new start 

Saturday 9th August 2014

Southend’s well-loved Beecroft Art Gallery begins its new life on Saturday 9th August in the former Southend Central Library in Victoria Avenue, Southend.

The gallery will re-open at 10am in its new location with two major exhibitions, more displays will follow later and a grand official opening will be staged on Wednesday 10th September.

One of the first eye-catching displays on Saturday 9th August is ‘Beauty and the Beach’ - a sought-after collection of iconic bathing suits from 1940s to the 1960s.

These will be on show until December in specially-made beach huts and display cabinets built by a volunteer carpenter. Then the exhibition will go on tour throughout the British Isles.

Also on display for the gallery’s re-launch will be the permanent collection of local scenes – featuring the original 1930’s seaside painting by maritime artist Charles Pears used as the basis for a railway poster.

This valuable artwork - which pictures a small section of Southend Pier -  was donated to the gallery by Network Rail.

Visitors will be able to use an ipad in the gallery to try out a ‘then and now’ app which pairs these historic pictures of recognisable places, with photos of how the same locations look today.

Another exhibition will be iconic photos of football stadiums – including Southend’s own Roots Hall – by Dave Shields.

September sees the launch of a major exhibition of the University of Essex’s unique collection of contemporary Latin American Art. This is the only major Latin American Art exhibition in Britain, and it coincides with the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The same month there will be a special display of portraits by Martin Huxter,  of descendants of the people who sat for Van Gogh’s painting, The Potato Eaters.

Overseeing the gallery is a painting of Walter Beecroft himself – the Leigh-on-Sea Solicitor who founded the gallery which for 60 years was housed in a former hotel Station Road, Westcliff.

Mr Beecroft bought the hotel as a temporary gallery space to display the artwork, intending to establish a permanent gallery elsewhere. In recent years the Station Road building deteriorated and became unsafe for visitors as well as for the paintings.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Councillor Graham Longley said: “We hope as many people as possible will be able to come along and enjoy the Beecroft Gallery’s fabulous works of art on display at the former Southend Central Library.

“This new location, a fully accessible space, is ideal for the Beecroft’s pictures and other artworks. The paintings can now be seen by all while also being kept safe with dimmable spotlights and tinted windows, and for the first time we have the room to host the region’s only dedicated costume exhibition collection.

“It is a wonderful way to share our borough’s art heritage in an easiy-reached building on one of the main routes into Southend.”

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