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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 14:14 UK
Llandudno's controversial Mostyn art gallery reopens
Inside the redeveloped Mostyn
The Mostyn's architects are the team behind Gatehead's iconic Baltic Centre

A controversial modern art gallery has been reopened by Wales heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones after a £5.1m facelift.

The rebranded Mostyn in Llandudno is open to the public from Saturday.

But the gallery devoted to contemporary, often conceptual, art is already getting a mixed reception.

Local historian Christopher Draper has told the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show it is a betrayal of the gallery's original purpose.

He said it concentrated on a 'pestilential' genre of art that smacks of the emperor's new clothes.

Gallery director Martin Barlow has denied this and the programme's presenter Nicola Heywood Thomas also gets the views of artists, local residents and visitors.

The redesign of the listed building in Vaughan Street by Ellis Williams Architects has retained the 1901 facade, but the interior has been remodelled and an extension added.

Mostyn art exhibit
Opening exhibits include a video project and artist in residence

Lois Williams, consultant artist, said the guiding principles were: "Simplicity, subtlety and sophistication - plus one or two surprises."

There are now four main galleries and two smaller exhibition spaces, as well as a shop, a cafe and educational facilities.

"The new Mostyn now has far more space to exhibit the best contemporary art from Wales and around the world in an emblematic building that retains links with the past while making a confident and eye-catching statement for the future," a spokemsman for the gallery said in a statement.

The opening exhibitions include a giant kite to a hotel breakfast table (complete with pair of spectacles, and a butter pat).

There is a collection of tradesmen's brushes, a lighthouse, a shed made out of old catalogues and stationery from the old Oriel Mostyn.

A residency from the so-called 'Junkman of Africa', scours the scrapyards of north Wales for suitable objects with which to make a 'soup' out of his impressions of the Queen of Resorts.

Meanwhile, some town councillors are unhappy that the word Oriel has been dropped from the gallery's name.

Cllr Linda Groom said: "I don't agree with it. We are in Wales and it is right that we have the Welsh prefix Oriel before the name. Nothing will be achieved by dropping the Oriel."

BBC Radio Wales Arts Show is on Thursday, 20 May at 1830 BST.

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