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John Piper and Swindon


Catch the John Piper exhibition this January at Tate Liverpool where curators have illustrated his pivotal role in the development of abstract art in Britain by placing his work alongside the work of Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. Medieval stain glass and Romanesque stone carvings admired by Piper will be on display and show how influenced he was by this early art in his designs for the windows in Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral.

John Piper is just one of the British modern artists that will also go on display from an important collection of 20th century paintings in a £20 million new art gallery planned for the town of Swindon. Funds are being raised to build a new gallery in the town centre which will also give employment to those who have suffered mental health issues.

Swindon Museums and Art Gallery Director, Rob Hebden, said at our recent 'Art Investment and Cities' Forum :

' Although Swindon has a rich cultural and commercial history - with its Great Western Railway engineering works - , it is often overlooked for this. Developers want to go ahead with projects, there is plenty of available land and the current cost of it is quite low but there is a sense that the town needs a push towards viability.

'Town (regeneration) developments are so important because companies have told me that if Swindon does not move forward, their firms will not be there in 10 years time.

'We are providing a cultural experience but are looking for partnerships to create this facility. It will be a platform for employment both with its roof gardens and cafe - particularly those with mental health issues.'

Architect and Director, Robert Bentley from Benoy discussed the issue of town centre sustainability and how culture could be used to attract interest from shoppers and office workers alike, at our forum on a panel with Stanhope PLC and Cushman & Wakefield.

Benoy has strong experience in the retail area and has not only worked on Westfield in London but has developed major city centre designs in China, where there is a growing appreciation of preserving culture for successful harbour fronts and retail destinations.

Robert commented that Glasgow is a great example of where art and culture has boosted both local engagement and tourist appeal. Now Swindon has to encourage local artists in a rich layering of cultural activity and events to develop, as a daytime as well as evening destination.

Watch the clip below of Robert and read more information about this exciting architectural practice in our Forum Report due to be published shortly.

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