The Berwick Watchtower has won Berwick Civic Society’s annual award for the outstanding contribution it has made to the town.
The gallery, in Tweedmouth’s West End, has made a big impact over the past year with a busy schedule of exhibitions and events promoted there.
On Sunday the gallery received further recognition in the shape of the civic society’s annual award for the building or project considered to make an outstanding contribution to the town.
The driving force behind the conversion is Kate Stephenson, who needed a permanent home for the huge images that her late husband, Ian Stephenson, had created.
He is represented in the permanent collections of the Tate and the Whitworth Galleries and of the British Council.
His work was described in the Independent: ‘Emptiness filled with matter. Solids filled with space.’
The gallery was originally built as a Presbyterian church in 1848, and later became the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Now the light has been let in as part of an ambitious scheme of restoration to provide a cavernous but luminous gallery space that can also be used for performances.
The demanding technical work behind the conversion was all undertaken by local contractor, M.T. Richardson.
Do Shaw, civic society chairman, congratulated Kate and Michael on the vision behind the scheme and on the quality of the work.
Not only had a historic building been given a new lease of life, there was a huge legacy, the ambitious programme of work from visiting artists which changes every month. The venue will also host musical events and is equipped with a recording studio.
Kate said: “I am delighted to have been given this award by the Civic Society because it reflects the amount of work and care that went into transforming the building, made possible by Michael Richardson and his team and architects Alan and Barbara Swan. We are all still good friends and I could not have reached this stage without them. The Watchtower is my home and my pleasure.”
In previous years, the civic society’s award has gone to the Granary Gallery, and the conversions at Short’s Mill and Bridge End. The Tweedmouth public housing refurbishment, the Spittal promenade improvements, the conversion of Freeman’s Court and the refurbishment of Tower Pottery have all received similar recognition.”