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Jonathan Ross backs vision for a permanent Chester art gallery

Wossy supports ambitions of not-for-profit company Chester Visual Arts after founders go on his BBC Radio 2 Arts Show

Ian and Cynthia Short, founders of not-for-profit company Chester Visual Arts, with broadcasting legend Jonathan Ross.

Celebrity Jonathan Ross is backing a vision for Chester to have its own permanent art gallery.

He was supportive of ambitions raised by Ian and Cynthia Short, from Waverton, who were interviewed on his BBC Radio 2 Arts Show on Thursday evening,

The couple, founders of not-for-profit company Chester Visual Arts, talked at length about the V&A Pop Art in Print exhibition currently on show in the former Chester library building, which their group helped bring to the city.

Their next goals are to find a temporary arts space for the medium term with the eventual aim of securing a permanent visual arts centre for Chester.

Jonathan Ross, known as ‘Wossy’, told listeners: “Chester Visual Arts has the V&A Pop Art in Print exhibition on in the old library in Chester. Go along to see it and support this event.

V&A pop art exhibition being hosted at the former Chester library(Image: UGC)

“Even if you don’t fancy a bit of pop art go along and let people know you want more of this kind of thing in Chester because it’s amazing there isn’t a permanent base.”

He told Ian and Cynthia: ”You guys are working as hard as you can towards creating that.”

Ian, a commercial lawyer by trade, said he always enjoyed a passion for the arts and had been involved with the Bluecoat arts centre in his home city of Liverpool.

Earlier he told Wossy how he and Cynthia, who hails from New York originally, first got involved in promoting the visual arts.

He said: “Chester Visual Arts began by Cynthia and I about seven years ago after deciding we wanted to do something about visual arts in Chester. The Chester theatre had closed down. There was nothing there at all. We thought we would have a go at it, purely altruistically to begin with.

“We were looking at the people in Chester, who were the main players and so on. Also, with this historic connection with the arts, we were reviving old relationships in London and so forth.”

The V&A Pop Art in Print exhibition currently on show in the former Chester library building.

Cynthia took up the story: “We found our role evolved from being two interested parties to raising the game by really leveraging everybody else so that we could have better exhibitions and get people who were doing good things to do more of it. That was really the long term way to play this exercise, because what we are really looking for in our lifetime is to realise a public art gallery for the city.”

The couple talked with optimism about the new climate in Chester with the opening of Storyhouse and a partnership with Chester Cathedral, which is hosting the ARK sculpture exhibition until October 15.

And Ian revealed that Liz West, an artist working with light installation, sculpture and public art, is coming to the cathedral next February.

Since opening at the end of July, the free-to-enter V&A Pop Art in Print exhibition has been attracting 1,500-2000 visitors a week, with many local residents strongly supporting the need for a contemporary gallery of international repute.

■ The display, which features major artists including Andy Warhol, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Damien Hirst and Julian Opie, runs until October 22, from 10am-5pm every day except Mondays.

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