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Picture special: White Moose gallery opens for business

PUBLISHED: 13:22 22 March 2013 | UPDATED: 14:05 22 March 2013

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

Archant

New Barnstaple arts venue draws a crowd as it launches its first ever exhibition — Degrees of Separation by Jane Churchill.

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill. Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

THE former Moose Hall in the centre of Barnstaple has entered a new era by reopening last night (Thursday) as town centre gallery and arts venue White Moose.

A large crowd turned out for the official launch of the new contemporary arts space, which aims to showcase and promote the work of emerging and local artists.

Business partners Julie Gavin and Stella Levy were keen to create an arts space in the town and purchased the former Moose Association hall, whose history stretches back to the 1700s when it was the Trinity Boys School.

Following tireless work by a group of volunteers, the first ever White Moose exhibition was unveiled on Thursday —

At the official launch of the new White Moose arts space in Barnstaple are artist Jane Churchill, organisers Stella Levy and Julie Gavin plus volunteers Matthew Broadhead, Chris Moss and Mike Woollacott. At the official launch of the new White Moose arts space in Barnstaple are artist Jane Churchill, organisers Stella Levy and Julie Gavin plus volunteers Matthew Broadhead, Chris Moss and Mike Woollacott.

Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple is a major project by South East based artist Jane Churchill, which brings to life the story of a Barnstaple man who fell in the Great War, using powerful imagery and real local history.

It is now open to the public and tomorrow (Saturday) there will be family workshops and activities based around the exhibition at both White Moose and the Barnstaple Museum at the Square.

‘Amazing response’

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill. Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

White Moose won an Arts Council England grant for its launch and inaugural project: “We hardly dared expect this award as we are only just launching, but feel it was partly due to our exciting opening project, which aims to reach new audiences with an challenging, thought provoking show that we believe will appeal to all age groups,” said Stella.

Both she and Julie praised the efforts of the volunteers and said they were delighted by the amazing response to ‘opening night’:

“It speaks to the fact cultural life is important to people in Barnstaple – the response has been fantastic and I think its’ about more than the economy, people want something they can feel a part of in their community.”

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill. Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

White Moose also plans to host national and international artists, forming another key stone of a North Devon art trail. There will also be artist seminars, workshops, projects, talks and residencies.

Jane Churchill’s Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple is part of her vision to develop six installations in the UK and Europe, inspired by the lives of soldiers who have a connection to her great uncle Lieutenant William Hicks, who was killed in July 1917.

She began by researching names on the town war memorial, plus archives and artefacts from the Museum of North Devon. The project will also include a number of educational and community workshops the gallery plans to run in co-operation with the museum.

Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill. Scenes from the official opening of the new White Moose arts space and gallery, with its first exhibition the 'Degrees of Separation, Barnstaple' WWI art project by Jane Churchill.

Step into a dream world...

“Exploring the relationship between museum collection, archive and created artefact, the work will invite you into a world between truth and fiction, the real and the imagined, asking what can be discovered about someone’s life from just a few surviving objects,” said Jane of her work.

“I will create a ‘step into’ dream-world, in which the audience experience their own relationship to love, loss and memory through the discovered stories of those just passed from living memory, giving people a deeper understanding of the long-term effects of war, in advance of the 2014 WWI centenary.”

Find out more at www.whitemoose.co.uk

* CLICK on the gallery link to the top right of this story to see more pictures.

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