First Site arts centre set to open

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The First Site centre for the visual arts is set to open in Colchester, Essex, in September, with architectural design and interiors by Rafael Viñoly, branding by Marcia Mihotich, wayfinding by Aukett Brockliss Guy and print materials by A Practice for Everyday Life.

The centre, which opens on 25 September, will be a home for the work of visual arts organisation First Site.

Designer and illustrator Marcia Mihotich has worked alongside First Site for the past nine years on various projects, designing lettering and publications as well as the advertising for upcoming exhibitions. She will also create the branding for the centre’s in-house bar/restaurant.

Mihotich says, ’Our thinking and aim has always been to promote First Site from a fairly small organisation and displaying it as a world-class organisation.’

She adds, ’First Site has very good curators, and so it has never looked second rate, it’s always looked cool,’ she adds.

The restaurant, which is also being branded by Mihotich, is going to be styled as modern British, set within a building with a view overlooking Colchester.

’We want to get across the message that this is the sort of place where anyone can come in and sit down and have a meal in a relaxed atmosphere,’ she says.

The restaurant is also designed to be flexible, with Mihotich explaining that the mood and atmosphere can change from day to night to create an ambience welcoming different crowds.

London-based design consultancy Apfel is designing the print materials relating to the opening exhibition, Camulodunum.

The building will include purpose-built gallery spaces for major international exhibitions and will also feature a display space to showcase works from the University of Essex’s internationally important collection of Latin American art, as well as extensive learning spaces for children, students and community groups.

A bar/restaurant and a 190-seat auditorium suitable for film screenings, lectures and events are also planned. The building will be open every day and into the evening, free to all.

Director of First Site Katherine Wood says, ’So much more than a beautiful gallery attracting art lovers from all over the country, I believe First Site will be at an important intersection between the community and artists, providing inspiration and encouragement to everyone to explore, create, relax and have fun.’

Key First Site exhibitions to date

Louise Bourgeois (1996)

Antony Gormley (1999)

Bridget Riley (2002)

Yoko Ono (2003)

Mark Dion (2005)

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