Although not trumpeted in Penarth Town Council’s latest press release on its “Vision Aims and Objectives 2017-2022″ , it appears as though the long-running campaign to restore the running of the town’s Turner House Art Gallery to local control has now been espoused by the council itself.
Turner House, in Plymouth Road, is currently owned by the National Museum of Wales but is currently leased by the Museum to the tax-payer-funded “charity” Ffotogallery as a venue for only photographic exhibitions – some of which are criticised for being of dubious quality and of questionable artistic merit.
However the Turner House Gallery itself and its original Turner paintings had originally been bequeathed in trust to the people of Penarth by the gallery’s creator and benefactor – the Victorian flour magnate and art connoisseur James Pyke Thomson [ the full saga is told on http://tinyurl.com/qc2hjdl ]
PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL’S “VISION” PLAN FOR TURNER HOUSE
In its “Vision” document Penarth Town Council says that it aims to:-
- Operate Turner House Gallery [ PDN Note: It is not clear what the word “operate” actually means. The council does not have the financial wherewithal to buy-back Turner House (and its Turner paintings) from the National Museum. Some ask why should it have to do so anyway. The National Museum paid nothing for the Turner House – or its priceless artworks – in the first place. ]
- Create a cultural arts and heritage centre than offers something for everyone
- Negotiate with the National Museum of Wales regarding returning the gallery’s future use. [PDN Note: The National Museum says Ffotogallery is considered to be “an ideal Arts Council of Wales revenue-supported organisation to have in residence”. However Ffotogallery carried out unauthorised alterations to Turner House (a Grade II listed Building) – which the Vale of Glamorgan Council (as planning authority) had to force the National Museum to reinstate. Ffotogallery also attempted to sub-let Turner House for a monthly food market – a scheme which was dropped following a public outcry]
- The council says that a “Heritage Lottery Funding grant application and a future public works loan would be required to take Turner House to new heights . The town council could open the doors of the gallery in its current form for community use and a develop a timetable of events that would be supported by the by the Development and Innovations Team at the council”
This initiative, the council says, “Is not due to start yet”