HUNDREDS of people packed out a gallery for its reopening after a devastating fire.

The popular TAP gallery in North Road, Westcliff, threw open its doors to the public for the first time since the blaze last May.

A van set light by vandals spread to the Victorian water works building and work by late Hadleigh artist Chris Lang, curated by his son Joe and artist Jonathan Kipps, was damaged or destroyed.

Extensive reconstruction and renovation had to take place before the venue, which also houses the White Bus Film Company, was finally ready to open.

Amy McKenny, one of the founders of TAP, said she was delighted with the success of the opening.
She said: “It was busier than I expected, I knew a lot of people would come but I didn’t think it would be like that.

“This space isn’t anything without all the people visiting - it is good to see people back in the space again.”

The exhibition showcased the work of 18 studio artists and others associated with the gallery and included prints, sculptures and installations.

Artist Joe Howgate created an interactive piece made up of eggshells.

He said: “I was really pleased and pleasantly surprised. We knew it would be quite busy but we didn’t expect so many people to come along and show support.”

The studio show features work by Karen Apps, Alexander Barrett, Stuart Bowditch, Sally Chinea, Emma Emmerton, Amy Frampton, Joe Howgate, Laura Keeble, Jon Kipps, Joe Lang, Amy McKenny, Damien Robinson, Hazel Sankey, Nastassja Simensky, Lee Sullivan, Maria Swepson, Michelle Jayne Turner and David Watkins.

It is open Friday and Saturday from 10am until 4pm and Sunday from 11am until 5pm until March 24.