The Penarth art gallery Turner House in Plymouth Road – which was gifted along with a priceless art collection to the people of Penarth in a bequest by its founder James Pyke-Thomson – is to remain closed until further notice.
The gallery – which is currently operated by its tenants, the taxpayer-funded charity Ffotogallery – was scheduled to have stayed open until December 19th last year but was peremptorily closed at the end of November 2015.
Today its emerged that the gallery’s doors are to remain shut until further notice whilst Ffotogallery take what’s described as “a short break” to plan its 2016/17 exhibitions.
Turner House was originally bequeathed to the people of Penarth in 1897 by local flour magnate James Pyke Thomson – along with a large collection of original artworks by J M Turner – now reckoned to be worth many millions.
The gallery – and its paintings – was handed over by Penarth Urban District Council to the National Museum of Wales in 1921 but it continued to be financially supported by Penarthians through a precept on the rates.
In 2003 the National Museum leased the building to a tax-payer funded “charity” Ffotogallery, which uses the gallery only for photographic exhibitions – or – as is the case at the moment, not at all
Ffotogallery Director David Drake said today “We’re taking a short break from presenting new exhibitions at Turner House while we plan our programme for 2016/17. ”
Mr Drake says “We are also discussing with the National Museum their longer term plans for Turner House and how Ffotogallery can work closely with the Museum to ensure a bright future for Turner House as a nationally important art gallery.We are currently reflecting on what exhibitions best suit Turner House, and appeal to both the local audience and our large visiting audience from within and outside Wales.”
He says ” The exhibitions we will be presenting this year, and the associated education work and community activities, will be up to our usual very high standard.”
The full story of how Penarth lost its multi-million pound collection of Turner paintings – and Turner House itself – is on http://tinyurl.com/qc2hjdl