London E2 9DQ
In September 2007 Wilkinson Gallery will move to a new space in Vyner Street, E2. The 6000 sq ft (560 sq m) building designed by Bobby Desai, Creative Director of Clarke : Desai, is the first purpose built gallery in E2 now famous for its thriving contemporary art gallery scene.
The conclusion of the 18 months project delivers to Amanda and Anthony Wilkinson two museum size gallery spaces for the main programme plus a project space for the development of a parallel programme of experimental one off projects and collaborations with other international public and private art organisations.
The Wilkinson Gallery was one of the first to open E2 in 1998, just a minute walk from the new space. Since then, the gallery has grown to represent international artists such as the acclaimed New York performance artist Joan Jonas and has also, over the last nine years, developed the careers of young artists, such as George Shaw, to international status.
Located on the site of a former single story factory, the initial idea was to refurbish the existing building. The team, however, decided to demolish this to make way for a new, bespoke two-story gallery. Careful development has ensured the original envelope is maintained at the rear, with a second story added to the Vyner Street side.
The diagrammatic simplicity of the plan, belies the complex relationship between the public and private realms. The clarity of the concept and careful composition of elements creates robust and versatile event and exhibition spaces, complete with in-situ concrete stairs and soaring 6 m high walls.
The building also incorporates a single view to the street, which protrudes dramatically through the unusual matt black façade, This single dynamic window at first floor level with recessed entrance doors below, provides visual relief and a dramatic sense of entrance. It’s a surprisingly sculptural building. Project Designer Bobby Desai explains “It is essentially a black building externally, which gives the building mass a unique resonance and presence. Yet it still has formal references to the industrial heritage of the site. There is a deliberate rawness to some of the detail; this ensures that the internal spaces will always be subordinate to the contents.”