A first in the UK with the opening of the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland

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The UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain opens this week in a market town in County Durham.

Bishop Auckland’s Spanish Gallery focuses on art from the Spanish Golden Age – a period of artistic and literary flourishing in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries – and although relatively small at its 800m², it contains some of the greatest images in the world.

The gallery is the latest in a series of cultural attractions developed by the Auckland Project, a charity founded by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer.

He created the association after purchasing a series of paintings, Jacob and his Twelve Sons from famous Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran in 2011, as well as Auckland Castle, where they have been housed since 1756, to save them for the nation. and the city.

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Mr Ruffer’s vision is for the Auckland Project attractions – Auckland Castle, Deer Park and Walled Garden, Mining Art Gallery, Auckland Tower Visitor Center , the Spanish Gallery and a future Faith Museum – alongside Binchester Roman Fort, Weardale Railway and the Kynren Open Night Air Show and Day Park – to attract international travelers to the county.

“What we have here are some of the most beautiful images in the world,” said Mr. Ruffer, whose own collection is complemented by spectacular loaner pieces in the gallery.

“The good thing about the fine arts is that they are democratic, that you don’t need an education or a lot of knowledge to be touched by art.

“We hope this is a gallery for everyone, just like the Mining Art Gallery, and the Faith Museum will be.”

Mr Ruffer said the most important aspect of the Auckland project’s work is not “pictures on the walls” but the regeneration of the area by working with the local people on its conservation, heritage, culture, its jobs and community projects.

“We want to have something that everyone will enjoy, I want what happens in Bishop Auckland to be the Maypole of County Durham,” he said.

Significant construction work was required to create the new gallery by redeveloping two adjacent properties – the Grade II listed Backhouse Bank and the adjoining Barrington School building – into ten gallery spaces spread over three floors.

The Spanish Gallery will be open on Friday, October 15, then from Thursday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., until December 18, when it is closed for winter.

Visitors are currently encouraged to pre-book slots, but tickets may be available on the same day. For information and tickets, priced at £ 10 for adults with discounts available, go to aucklandproject.org/venues/spanish-gallery/

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