‘Towner bashers and moaners’

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I see we have the usual occasional letter from the association of Towner bashers and moaners (May 6).

Oddly none of them, and they have included an architect and one of your own journalists, ever treat us to their opinion of exactly what kind of building would best perform the difficult feat of complementing its 1960s modernist neighbour, the Congress Theatre, whilst meeting the complex demands of a 21st century art gallery.

The outward appearance of any building is, of course, constrained by the demands placed on its interior, in the case of an art gallery the principal ones being the need for uninterrupted wall space and even lighting.

That all but rules out, for example, conventional windows in the galleries at least and thus a convincing traditional style.

It is why the old Towner, whilst quite properly a much-loved period building and possibly a suitable museum, was a hopeless gallery and a curatorial nightmare.

It would have been an advantage to have a lecture room and the exhibitions have, to date, been less ambitious than we might wish for but those are things that can be corrected.

As befits a modernist building the focus has been on similar art but all tastes have been served.

The architects, Rick Mather, have done their job magnificently and produced a solution which admirably combines the conflicting demands as they have done to much acclaim in similar circumstances e.g. the Ashmolean extension.

Their work has been widely recognised and gained them numerous awards internationally.

We have a gallery which stands comparison with the best in what has become a crowded arena in the UK and it is a pity a few can’t recognise the fact and be proud of this adornment to our townscape.

Perhaps they should broaden their minds a little and might usefully start with the RIBA citation for its 2010 awards.

Ron Wells

Wrestwood Avenue