Banking on a cultural weekend? Why not pay a visit to Basildon’s new art mecca?

The borough’s new art gallery will be officially launched today when Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe cuts the ribbon to open a fresh chapter in the gallery’s history.

The gallery is opening within what used to be the Woolwich bank in the Town Square after it had to leave its former home within the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Basildon to make way for a toy shop.

The shopping centre bosses however were pivotal in finding a new home for the gallery and its grateful trustees couldn’t be happier.

Vin Harrop, Basildon arts champion and co-founder of the gallery, said: “We are pleased to announce the reopening of The Basildon Eastgate Art Gallery in its new home at 46 Southernhay, Basildon.

Working with Eastgate is a good example of business and the arts working together for the common good of the community.

“The Basildon Eastgate Art gallery is a fabulous new location and we have great plans for using this space to support all forms of artistic, cultural and community activity. We hope to bring the many diverse people of Basildon together through their enjoyment of art, by displaying the best of local art, with something to appeal to all tastes and making this living art space the most wondrous of all arts formations for miles around.

The gallery has a vision of creating ‘A sustainable community educational service’ for the people of Basildon that will help to meet gaps in the provision of access to the arts in the town. The venue will be open 7 days a week from 10 to 4 and will be staffed entirely by volunteers.

A total of 39 artists are currently exhibiting at the gallery, including mum-ofone from Laindon, Sue Barnfield, who ironically left a career in banking herself to become an artist.

She said: “The gallery has an atmosphere conducive to the quiet introspection of art and cultural nourishment.

“We have all manner of works on display to make life memorable in a place where people can come together against the backdrop of what was once a local bank”.

Eastgate Centre Manager Ian Clark added: “We are delighted to have been able to provide this opportunity for a new gallery and will look to provide similar opportunities whenever we can in the future”.

The gallery will be opening at 3pm on Saturday.