Nottingham Contemporary art gallery marks fifth birthday

It has been five years since the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery first opened its doors to the public.

The £20m gallery, which has faced both praise and criticism for its design, aimed to link old and new Nottingham when it opened in November 2009.

Image copyright Andy Taylor Smith
Image caption Architects said they wanted to create something that would fit into the surroundings. The Lace Market is an area of the city centre named after its lace heritage

The green and gold building, designed by architect Caruso St John, was built into a sandstone cliff and decorated with lace embossed concrete panels.

The lace design was taken from a print of an 1847 pattern which was found in a time capsule by architects near the site.

Image copyright Martine Hamilton Knight
Image caption The lace on the exterior of the building came from samples from the factory of Richard Birkin, one of the largest and innovative lace producers in the city in the 1800s

The building took four years to complete and saw the project run almost £6m over budget.

The centre, a registered charity, is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Nottingham City Council. It also received help from the European Regional Development Fund and National Lottery.

Image copyright Dom Henry
Image caption The Brit Art Show came to Nottingham for the first time in 2010 and saw artwork from 39 artists displayed across three venues including the Contemporary

It contains four galleries, performance and film space and a learning room.

On its opening day hundreds of people queued to see its first exhibitions which included 60 paintings from David Hockney and work by American artist Frances Stark.

Centre director, Alex Farquharson, said: "When we opened five years ago we aimed to be a leading international art gallery with a strong local sense of purpose.

"We believe that contemporary artists offer extraordinary perspectives on society - and we wanted to share their work with as many people as possible."

Image copyright Andy Keate
Image caption The Aquatopia exhibition last year brought together 150 contemporary and historic artworks that explored how the ocean has been imagined over time

Since it opened the gallery has shown 31 international art exhibitions and has clocked up 930,000 visitors.

Exhibitions have included Star City, which looked at art under Communism, Huang Yong Ping's art work made from the fuselage of an American spy plane, and Aquatopia, an exhibition inspired by the ocean.

Image copyright Nottingham Contemporary
Image caption Artist Raphael Hefti's artwork which is currently on display uses colourful glass pane sculptures

Peter Knott, from Arts Council England, said: "Our ambition is for as many people as possible to benefit from art and culture, and it's great to be able to look back over the last five years and see how public investment in Nottingham Contemporary has had an impact."

Image copyright Paul Fletcher
Image caption Lisa Ann Auerbach produced a knitwear exhibition for the main window of the Nottingham Contemporary in 2009 while parts of the building were still under construction

The building won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award for architectural excellence in 2010 and has had several nominations for other design and architecture awards since opening.

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