New Building Works | Wolverhampton Art Gallery

















60 tonnes of scaffolding, 12 miles of cable, 10,000 hours to install electrics, 5 tonnes of tubing and boards, 2000 tonnes of rock and spoil excavated, 360 cubed metres of concrete moved, 2 km of structural steel used to create the triangular structure.

This raw data provides a glimpse into the building of the extension to Wolverhampton Art Gallery which represents a milestone in our history. In the wake of the building work there have been changes; not just in the fabric of the building, its bricks and mortar, but also for the people involved, staff, contractors and visitors. We wanted a way to document this exciting journey and decided that a new photography commission would be the perfect way to do this.

I first encountered Claudio Hils’ work in 2004 when I visited his project Archive_Belfast. Here were the hallmarks of his practice which include an irrefutably beautiful aesthetic, an ability to find the sublime within the mundane and the sense of humour he invests in the banal. I was confident that the commission would produce images which were not purely a documentation of the building process, but which created traces of the people involved. Whether visible or absent in the selected images there is an overarching sense of their presence, placing people at the heart of Wolverhampton Art Gallery from its inception to the present day.

Claudio Hils visited Wolverhampton Art Gallery in January 2005 as the early stages of the building work began and it was our intention that he should make a site visit every three months. At the end of each trip one key image was chosen for a limited edition postcard and distributed to a selected mailing list. The postcards served a dual function, not only did they form a beautiful collection of images, they also provided an update of what was happening. At the end of the commission ten postcards were selected and the rest of the images formed a resource from which to construct the publication.

Our ultimate vision was to create this book as a lasting reminder of the journey we have undertaken and to celebrate our launch into a new era for Wolverhampton Art Gallery. In looking forward, buoyed up by the possibilities of our new spaces , we also value our connections to the past; to the Gallery and the Art School built by and for local people whose descendants form the communities which we continue to serve. This history is eloquently reflected in the final architectural statement, which marries the old and the new, through an extraordinary, luminous, white atrium suffused with natural light.

Kate Pryor

Exhibitions Curator

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

  • Publication
    • New Building Works | Wolverhampton Art Gallery

      Edition J. J. Heckenhauer, Tübingen/Berlin, 2007
      ISBN 3-9811510-0-8

      Deutscher Fotobuchpreis – shortlist 2007

  • Exhibitions
    • 2007
    • New Building Works, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, UK
    • Deutscher Fotobuchpreis – shortlist 2007
      • Frankfurter Buchmesse, Frankfurt, DE
      • Regierungspräsidium Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, DE
      • Landesgartenschau, Bad Rappenau, DE
      • Vertretung des Landes Baden-Württemberg bei der Europäischen Union, Brüssel, BE
      • Litera, Linz, AT
Internationale Bodenseemesse, Friedrichshafen, DE
      • BuchBasel, Basel, CH
      • Leipziger Buchmesse, Leipzig, DE
      • Stuttgarter Buchwochen, Stuttgart, DE