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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 18:32 GMT
Saatchi plans gallery near Tates
County Hall, on London's South Bank
County Hall: The planned site of a new Saatchi gallery
One of Britain's leading modern art collectors, Charles Saatchi, plans to open a major gallery on London's South Bank - right between the sites of the two Tate galleries, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

The advertising agency chief is negotiating to convert the first floor of County Hall, the former headquarters of the Greater London Council, into a vast private gallery.

A spokeswoman for the existing Saatchi gallery, in north London, said the collector hoped to open the doors to the public in 2002.

The gallery planned to stage in-depth shows featuring the work of younger British artists such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, she said.

These would complement thematic shows and exhibitions of work by British artists of different generations.

Charles Saatchi
Charles Saatchi: Made his fortune in advertising

An annual visitor total of 750,000 - a very large number in museum attendance terms - would be "something to work towards", the spokeswoman added.

However, the negotiations for the new space were said to be complicated.

County Hall is owned by the Japanese company Shirayama - and is also an English Heritage Grade II-listed building.

So any proposal for the space has to be acceptable aesthetically to English Heritage as well as viable financially as far as the owners are concerned.

The main riverside building is currently home to a variety of enterprises including the London Aquarium, two hotels and several restaurants.

It also houses Dali Universe, a permanent exhibition deidicated to the work of the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

Gearon's photos caused a controversy when they were shown at Saatchi's this year
staatchi has shown the controversial Tierney Gearon's children at play

English Heritage confirmed it had had "detailed discussions" with Saatchi's.

An agreement had been reached "in principle" that a gallery could be installed as long as the building's period fixtures and fittings were not damaged, and it could be removed without damage being done to the fabric of the building, the organisation said.

A report in the Guardian newspaper interpreted the planned move as a direct challenge to Tate director Nicholas Serota.

But Tate Modern commented that it "would welcome a new museum on the South Bank".

Photographer Tierney Gearon
"Photographs should be something that each person has their own induvidual opinion on"
See also:

13 Aug 01 | Arts
Hirst turns on patron Saatchi
12 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Controversial photos stay put
01 Nov 01 | Arts
Tate Britain goes public
30 Oct 01 | Arts
Tate galleries' success story
11 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Smith warns against art censorship
20 Jun 00 | Business
Saatchi falls to Publicis
03 Apr 00 | UK
Art Hirst and foremost
08 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Saatchi sells off kitchen sink
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