Monday 16 November

I am enormously grateful and relieved that we have received such fantastic financial support since we first closed in March. I am sure that you will have seen much publicity about how hard-hit cultural institutions have been over the last months. Theatre, of course, has not had the advantage of being open as we were from mid-August until early November. However, we had the huge cost of reopening which for many museums meant they did not even try and open in the summer and may not now open until next year.

The amazing generosity of all our supporters has been so important now we have closed again, as at least we have some funds to sustain us during this period. We are also incredibly grateful to all the trusts and foundations who have turned around their grant programmes to provide emergency funding.

We were successful in our application to the Culture Recovery Fund. Thank you to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England for this essential lifeline. It has given us hope that we will ‘survive and thrive’ once again and that we can keep our doors open. As an independent charity, we rely on income from admissions, fundraising, Shop, and Café to survive. The financial impact of Covid-19 on the gallery has been devastating. This grant enables us to carry on serving our local community who now need us more than ever, particularly the vulnerable elderly who we work with as a key part of our Art and Wellbeing programme.

We want to protect all the great people who work at The Lightbox and keep the gallery safe for visitors to return. We also want to continue to prepare for you wonderful exhibitions which rival anything you will see in London and these can be enjoyed on your doorstep. Our Art and Wellbeing programme aims to look after the health and wellbeing of all those who visit or who work in partnership with us.

We believe that enjoying art and discovering your creativity makes you happier and healthier. You do not need to know anything about art – you can relax and enjoy our spaces in any way that you want to. Our latest exhibition We Think the World of You: People and Dogs Drawn Together by David Remfry is an excellent example of an exhibition which is fun, light-hearted, and a delight to wander around and take your mind off less happy times.

The Blue Chair, Alan Cumming and Honey, Graphite and Watercolour, 2009, © David Remfry, 2020

Thank you to all our supporters for your help in every way, by donating, visiting, or renewing your membership and for being a vital part of our story. I am so looking forward to welcoming you back in early December when you will find us ready for the challenges that undoubtedly still lie ahead – we know that we have your support and that all those people who returned to us through September and October will come back again as soon as they can.

With best wishes,

Monday 9 November

The Lightbox is eerily quiet on this rather dull Monday morning – no chat from staff members in the office and the Shop with all its lovely gifts looking very unloved. I looked back this morning at my message to you at the beginning of August and how hopeful we were feeling then, excited about welcoming everyone back and not really expecting that our reopening would be so short-lived.

It is very sad to be closing again at this time of year as it is usually so busy for us. Our Craft Fair draws in some of the highest visitor numbers of the year and filling The Lightbox with twinkly lights, music, and beautiful things always shows what we are truly here for – to make people feel better and lift their spirits. But 'Keep Calm and Carry On' as the message goes, is what we have to do.

The team gathered together virtually last week to work out how we could keep bringing the fantastic Lightbox spirit to you. We hope to replace our planned in-person talks programmes with a virtual lecture series – this will have the advantage, of course, that more of you will be able to join our speakers! We also hope to have an exclusive talk, especially for members so watch the website for more details. The Stay Creative team will be back once more with lots of activities – particularly around making lovely Christmas decorations. We will also have lots of blogs on heritage and #WellnessWednesdays will return on socials.

Speaking of heritage, I watched the Remembrance Service from the Albert Hall on Saturday evening which reminded me that two years ago in November 2018 – the marking of the end of WW1, I was privileged to be asked to take part in the Remembrance Service, along with many other civilians who had relatives who had been killed in that terrible conflict.

My grandfather was killed in October 1918 in the Italian campaign – three weeks before the Armistice - he never saw my father who had been born just a year before. My passion for history means that even as a young child I was fascinated by the portrait of my grandfather hanging on the wall of my grandmother’s sitting room with the Dead Man’s Penny on the cabinet underneath. I have researched his history and service in the Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and in October 2018 I took my children to visit his grave in Northern Italy, where I had been a number of times before.


What relevance these memories have for me now is to realise whenever we live and whatever we have to endure there are always those who have been in a worse situation – my grandmother left alone with a tiny baby at the end of a disastrous war, my troubles seem very small by comparison.

All of us at The Lightbox are determined to stay positive, we know that we have your support and that all those people who returned to us through September and October will come back again as soon as they can. Raphael awaits you all when you come back, lovely Christmas gifts and cards await in our Shop, and hot chocolate with marshmallows awaits in the Café – I don’t know about you but that sounds worth waiting for! Please keep supporting us, renew memberships, or if you haven't already discovered what great value this is, then please give it a try.

All best wishes and stay safe for now,

Monday 2 November

Hello everyone,

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to everyone to let you know that we will be closing, in line with government guidelines on 4 November, 5.00pm. We have been open for less than three months since our lengthy summer closure but during that time visitors have returned and have really enjoyed our two exhibitions in the Main Gallery, particularly Raphael, which I am sure everyone who has seen it will agree is an absolute coup for Woking and our gallery. It is the only exhibition commemorating the remarkable work of this Renaissance artist to be shown in the UK this year, the 500th anniversary of his death.

We are so incredibly grateful to all our volunteers and visitors who have supported us by coming back, renewing memberships, and purchasing from the shop. Our visitor numbers have exceeded expectations and have really shown us how much local people value The Lightbox and want to support us – so thank you from everyone. Our stalwart volunteers have returned and have embraced our safety measures, while still making our visitors feel welcome. We appreciate for some people it has required a leap of faith to come back into public spaces but everyone has done it with real enthusiasm and we are full of gratitude.

Clearly now, we are faced with the prospect of closing our doors once more. We hope we will be able to welcome you back to Raphael in just a few weeks, for the whole of December and January. There will be plenty of time to come and enjoy this remarkable exhibition, with four original Raphael drawings that are rarely on public display. One exhibit that has really caught attention is the vast tapestry from Boughton House in Northamptonshire. The tapestry was woven from a magnificent Raphael cartoon and is a copy produced in the 17th century which has hung at Boughton ever since. The exhibition is full of similar delights, but of course, the Raphael drawings on loan from The Royal Collection are the high point of the exhibition.

We will be returning to sending out as much digital content as possible and keeping in touch with regular blogs and online events. We will be looking to reschedule our programme of events when possible so please watch the website for new updates. Membership will still be available for purchase via the website, so do consider this for a Christmas gift if you want to support us. We are so incredibly grateful to all the Members and our Supporters for their help during our first closure period. To everyone who has renewed membership, taken out a three-year membership, or donated, thank you so much, your support is so valued and you have enabled us to reopen and to continue our community support work and our exhibition programme.

We need your support now more than ever, so please stick with us and keep in touch – our website will have up-to-date information about our digital programme and of course, news about reopening – hopefully on 2 December. If you love art and want to ensure that your local gallery is still there for your enjoyment then please do consider becoming a member or making a donation. We want to give back to our community so thank you for everything you are doing, and I hope to see you very soon.