Airside creates Pop Art space in Wolverhampton gallery extension

Wolverhampton Art Gallery is set to open a £6.7m triangular gallery extension, with a permanent space designed by Airside dedicated to Pop Art.

The consultancy was briefed to design the identity, exhibition space and interactive installations aimed at a target audience of 14- to 25-year-olds, with a budget of £100 000.

At the entrance to the gallery, which will display a permanent collection of 1960s and 1970s Pop Art, a host of colourful boxes has been painted on to the wall offering information about the art movement. Several artworks are featured against a white background and there are costumes from the era hanging up in a makeshift wardrobe.

Interactive elements include a computer program for visitors to create their own collage using Peter Blake-inspired figures and 1960s paraphernalia, as well as a life-size projection of an actor portraying Andy Warhol talking about his work.

Airside creative director Alex Maclean says, ‘It was quite an unusual brief. We had to make the walls white, but research shows that kids don’t like a white gallery, so we had to make it into a bright, social space where they could hang out with their friends. The decision to include interactive work was taken because it is aimed at a very young audience.’

Every six months there will be a rehang of the works exploring changing themes including popular culture, politics, consumerism and Pop Art’s influence in contemporary art.

Airside won the business last year following a six-way pitch involving Why Not Associates, Stickland Coombes, Studio Myerscough, Fat and Gitta Gschwendtner.

The triangular space has been designed by Niall Phillips Architects, and the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £5m for the development. The remaining £1.7m came from Advantage West Midlands and Wolverhampton City Council.

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