The inaugural exhibition commemorates the RWS’s return to the Grade II Listed John Nash buildings which they first occupied 200 years ago. Their inaugural exhibition features original artworks by almost every present-day member including a watercolour by the late Chris Wilkinson, who was an Honorary Member of the RWS. His design for the new gallery successfully reimagines the Victorian wine vaults and dilapidated ground floor, into a refined contemporary home for the RWS, used for exhibitions, tuition and lectures, and events.
Entering from the street, the upper gallery is a single open space which can house standalone exhibitions, while larger exhibitions can flow down into the basement galleries. Retained heritage features are supplemented by a bespoke joinery wall which disguises all functional elements of the gallery management as well as providing retail display opportunities. The basement gallery occupies two brick vaults, delicately lined to preserve the listed fabric, with floating vertical display walls set off to provide extensive space for a variety of exhibitions. Offices and additional functions are housed in exposed brick vaults to the rear of the lower levels providing efficient space for the gallery management and members. The society, founded in 1804, has plans to transfer archival material to their new premises at a future date.
The restrained palette of materials includes plain gallery walls with timber and concrete floors. Additional spaces celebrate the retained heritage fabric of vaulted brick, York stone flooring and original features including the historic ceramic wine vault numbering.
The new gallery is part of a wider development by architects Brisac Gonzalez and Arquitctonica for developer Hobhouse.