A HUGE renovation project underway at the former Kingdom Hall in Tweedmouth is set to house a superb new art gallery.
The castellated building in West End will be known as The Berwick Watchtower - a nod to its use as a meeting place for the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the last 40 years.
It has been given a new lease of life by Kate Stephenson, from Duddo, and is due to open on September 8.
Before that, however, it will display hundreds of paintings of the Queen being done by local first school children for the Diamond Jubilee.
“Every single window was completely blacked out when I bought it last December,” revealed Kate.
“It’s still a bit of a building site at the moment but a lot of work has already been done to let the light in and create some big open spaces that will be fantastic for artists wanting to exhibit their work.”
The gallery will be run as a private venture with the idea of complementing other visual arts venues in the town such as the Gymnasium Gallery and Granary Gallery.
Kate said: “I really want it to be a fun palace for art. It will be a private house as well but the doors will be open for everyone to come in and have a look around. There will be something for everyone.”
The new venue will also display the remarkable paintings of her late husband, Ian, a Royal Academician whose work has featured in top galleries around the globe.
“I’ve been looking for somewhere to hang them for several years now,” said Kate. “This building, because it’s so huge, will be perfect for them.”
The building will also be suitable for acoustic music events. There will be a stage and even a recording studio.
A programme of events has already been drawn up for the next 12 months, with local artist Mark Irving and Royal Academician Mali Morris among those set to exhibit their work.
“There’s loads of wall space for different shows,” said Kate. “We hope to have 10 shows a year for local people and five for visiting artists.
“We also plan to offer two month residences for artists, poets, writers - whatever they may be - and they would put on a show at the end of it.”
Above all, however, Kate just wants people to feel comfortable coming into the new venue.
“Art can have a bit of a stuffy reputation but there’s a place for everyone here,” she said.