Major refurb of Grade II listed Arts School building completed
A major refurbishment of a Grade II listed Arts School building in Wrexham has been completed.
The Regent Street School of Creative Arts has been upgraded and its key features faithfully maintained after work, which began in the summer, was carried out by contractors SWG Construction as part of the £70 million Campus 2025 project.
Among the improvements is a new Starbucks café created off the main entrance which is open to the public, and the iconic front sandstone portico has also been spruced up and repaired.
Housed next door but one to Wrexham Museum the building first opened to students in 1887. Today it hosts a dedicated studio and workshop spaces for a host of artistic disciplines, as well as an art shop.
Paul Jones, Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Fine Art course has hailed the improvements which he says make the building more accessible and welcoming – opening up everything the space has to offer.
“Regent Street currently has a number of gallery spaces that allow for a variety of exhibition formats”, he said.
“The Dispensary is situated at the main entrance of the building and also has a successful online presence. We have Dazzle cinema, which presents artists films and a café gallery that displays the research and art practice of the staff.
“This redevelopment has allowed us to consider how the building can be accessible and welcoming. With this in mind, we now have a main gallery space where we will exhibit emerging and established artists/makers within a professional gallery environment.
“All our galleries have an emphasis on celebrating research and art practice. As part of the project, ‘Curating Regent Street’ we aim to activate the whole of the building, making it a visually stimulating space both inside and outside.
“We want to celebrate student work together by having a stimulating programme of visiting artists/makers exhibitions, talks, workshops, and seminars.”
He added: “We are focused on making Regent Street a dynamic and welcoming environment, where both students and the visiting public can experience something that is culturally rich, thought-provoking and inspirational.”
Other alterations include the fitting of cast iron radiators and the lobby floor. To maintain the authenticity of the building, cast iron radiators have been fitted and the lobby floor has been stripped back, repaired and polished to its Terrazzo marble finish, repaired and polished.
Further internal maintenance such as pipework and lighting and lighting has also taken place, modernising the building’s infrastructure.
External repair and decoration work has also been undertaken on the Bradley Road side of the building, which turns 135 years-old next year and remains a key landmark in Wrexham town centre.
The first exhibition to be programmed is Massive Heedz, a project facilitated by Ali Roscoe and includes work by students on the Fine Art BA and pupils at Ysgol Dinas Bran, in Llangollen.
The MA in Creative Production and Curatorial Practice team are in the process of developing this.
As the redevelopment work was taking place, Art and Design at Wrexham Glyndwr was recognised as being top in the UK for satisfaction with student feedback, as ranked by The Guardian.
Professor Alec Shepley, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, said: “Everyone is delighted to see the improvements brought about by the refurbishment.
“The modernisation of the building, while being faithful to and retaining its character and key features, keeps pace with other improvements
“Art and Design here at Glyndwr ranks second in Wales for teaching quality, and in the top 10 in the UK overall according to The Times – and this refurbishment matches that progress.”
Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton was one of the first guests to visit the campus since the refurbishment.
She said: “It was a pleasure to visit the Wrexham Glyndwr’s renovated Regent Street campus, which has blended the historic building with modern additions to create an amazing learning environment.
”The space fuses art, architecture and an opportunity to eat and drink, and it is open to the public so I would certainly suggest a visit!
“It was also great to meet Vice -Chancellor Professor Maria Hinfelaar and the team from the University to hear more about their ambitious learning and development plans, which I look forward to seeing come to fruition.”
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