Exciting times as Oxmarket prepares to unveil its new look

The pandemic has been a hugely challenging time – but also a hugely exciting time – for Abigail Day to take up her new job as gallery manager at Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery.

Abigail Day
Abigail Day

Abi started at the gallery in the middle of October. In the five months or so since then, the gallery has been open for just a month and a half or so.

But during the current lockdown, the gallery would have been closed for substantial refurbishment anyway.

And with a reopening date now on the horizon, Abi can’t wait to share with artists and visitors alike the new-look vastly improved Oxmarket. April 13 is the date for the diaries.

“It has been a challenging time to start here,” Abi admits, but she is loving the job and really excited and optimistic about the future.

“And I have had great support from (Oxmarket chairman) Sophie (Hull), and I just feel like my job is going to be a breeze after all this! I have had to learn very quickly which has been interesting.

“I have had people that have got shows booked for this year who have been asking me how things work, and the fact is that I haven’t really seen how things work normally here, the usual two-week turnaround.

“When I started we had the big Philip Jackson exhibition and then we had the Christmas fair so it was all very different to how things usually are.

“I don’t feel I have seen the typical normal turnaround (between exhibitions) yet, but I know that we have got some great shows booked in for this year. I have seen some of the images, and I just want to be able to do some proper curating. Things do feel like they are a little bit on hold at the moment. But now that we have got a reopening date, it does take the stress off my shoulders and we can really look forward to something positive.

“We were going to be closed for the refurbishment anyway, but actually it has allowed me time to get to grips with all the work on the gallery moving forward. It is not really a change in direction, but it is a new elevated status.

“I have seen the gallery before and after, and the work on the gallery has been just jaw-dropping.

“The guys have done a fantastic job, and the improvements to the building are just amazing.

“The Oxmarket has always been well known and well loved, but it has finally been taken to this great level and given the TLC it has always deserved.”

Beyond a brand-new front door, the improvements include a vastly improved entrance area, much more spacious and now a gallery in itself – one, in fact, of five exhibition areas the Oxmarket can now offer: the main gallery, the studio, the new reception gallery, the lobby space and the courtyard.

“We have got a really busy programme. We have still got a few spaces with the new reception gallery.

“A few final tweaks are being made to that, but it has allowed us an extra several metres of hanging space, and I think it will be quite a coveted space to exhibit in. It will be the first impression that you get when you come in.

“But all the other galleries are really packed out. It is partly down to the fact that we have had to shift people from previous dates (which haven’t been able to happen). But all the gaps should fill once word spreads about all the improvements to the gallery.”