Picture of Orleans House Gallery

Twickenham gallery dedicates 50 year anniversary to ‘unsung heroes’ bringing art to the community

A gallery in Twickenham celebrated 50 years of bringing art to the community last week, by recognising the many volunteers that keep the organisation running. 

Orleans House Gallery, set in beautiful gardens overlooking Twickenham’s riverside, has been showing contemporary art since its opening as a public gallery in 1972.

To celebrate the anniversary, Head of Service Tim Corum dedicated a private event to all the volunteers that help bring art to the surrounding community.

He said: “They are the heart and soul of this organisation and we owe them a massive debt.

“Staff come and go, artists come and go, but the supporters and volunteers are the ones who stay.

“We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, so we must pay tribute to them.”

50 YEARS: The gallery celebrated five decades of art by hosting a party for its volunteers

One volunteer, portrait artist Fiona Crampsie, lives locally and has volunteered at the gallery since she completed her masters in fine art.

She said: “It’s amazing to volunteer because whilst you give up your time, you do get something back.

“Worming in this beautiful building with the gardens and woodland whilst meeting lots of wonderful people really is amazing for your mental health.

“And especially because I live around here, it helps you feel more embedded into the community, which makes it that little bit more special.”

The event was held in the gallery’s ornate Octagon Room, decorated in the Baroque style in the 18th century, which represents not just the rich culture of the villa’s history but also acts like the heart of the gallery.

From this room the gallery spreads outwards showing a range of art from new exhibitions such as Mandeep Dillon’s ‘Objects of Disquiet’ to paintings that have been there for decades. 

ELABORATE SPLENDOUR: The 18th Century rotunda is a key feature of this Twickenham-based gallery

One such painting, Osmund Caine’s ‘Wedding at Twickenham Church’ shows a typical wedding scene in a venue known to many locals.

This local touch is something that draws Richmond councillor John Coombs of Richmond Arts Service to the gallery.

A TYPICAL SCENE: Osmund Caine’s painting is a prominent piece at Orleans House

Coombs said: “We do an incredible amount here on a very tight budget, and we are able to do so because of this band of volunteers. 

“They never get that much recognition but they give up their time and learn all about everything so that they can share the gallery with the public.

“They truly are unsung heroes.”

AIDING THE ARTS: Richmond Councillor John Coombs stands in front of contemporary painting works in Orlean’s modern wing

One current exhibition in the riverside gallery is Dfiza Benson’s ‘Lines of Dissent’, in which the artist reveals the untold stories of overlooked female artists in the gallery’s archives.

Over the 50 year period the gallery has collected art by many artists but only a small proportion were by female artists, a deficit which Benson attempts to address in her exhibition. 

According to Corum, issues of representation, accountability and climate and social justice form a large part of the gallery’s goal for the next five decades at Orleans House. 

He said: “One of the things we wanted to highlight was our commitment over the next 50 years to re-address inequalities and imbalances.

“We want to create community through creativity, providing people with the opportunity to rethink their lives and reimagine a world which is fairer, more engaging and more rewarding.

“Our vision is to create a hub where artists in the community can explore different ways of changing the world.”

Enjoy a visit to Orleans House Gallery with free entry for all.

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