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Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Wednesday, 15 September 2010 16:32 UK
Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery renamed Smiths Row
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

Market Cross building, Bury St Edmunds
The Market Cross building was restored in the Georgian period

The Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery is changing its name to try and end 'confusion' for visitors and artists.

It is being re-launched on 16 September 2010 as Smiths Row - named after a row of market stalls which were near the gallery site in medieval times.

Anyone called Smith is invited to the opening ceremony and they will receive a year's free membership.

"We are all very excited by the new name which we feel truly reflects our work," said Alison Plumridge, director.

The re-launch is deemed to be necessary because it was thought the name Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery is a bit stuffy.

"The art gallery works with contemporary artists from Suffolk, the UK and all over the world," said Alison.

"The name very much gives the impression that we have an historic collection of paintings.

"There's quite a lot of confusion between us and the museum and we want to represent more of what we do to our visitors and also to those who give us grants, because we're a charity.

"The new name is more up to date and shorter, making it much easier to use, yet it retains our links with Bury St Edmunds.

"We want to keep our roots in Bury and the name Smith has its associations with blacksmithing, silversmithing and goldsmithing - and we work with jewellers the whole time."

Market Cross building, Bury St Edmunds
The former theatre became an art gallery in 1972

Calling all Smiths

The gallery is in the Market Cross next to the Corn Exchange and is a Grade I listed Georgian building.

In 2009, it had around 15,500 visitors, but the gallery also runs artist and outreach projects around the town.

The first exhibition at the re-named gallery is called Under The Counter which looks at contemporary jewellery by Roseanne Bartley, Timothy Information Limited, Elizabeth Callinicos, James Evans, Benjamin Lignel and the Intelligent Trouble group.

"The name Smiths Row is reasonably well-known and was discovered by the chairman of our board, who's an architect and knows a lot about the history of the town and, in particular, the medieval grid," said Alison.

"To emphasise that we're a gallery for everyone, we would like to invite everyone from across Suffolk called Smith or Goldsmith to be a VIP guest."

There's a limit of 100 Smiths who will get free membership of the gallery.

Entry to the gallery is free, but there are charges for workshops and talks, which members get a discount for. Membership costs £15 per year.

Under The Counter runs 18 September-30 October 2010 and you can find out more at Smiths Row .




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