Monday 10 August 2020

We are almost there! After 143 days of closure, tomorrow we reopen. Our opening hours will remain the same and our colleagues at Tipsy Pigs will re-open with us. We need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as you can possibly manage it.

I have been so reminded over the last few days of the lead up to our opening in 2007. There is the same adrenaline charge – everyone pulling together to get us ready for our first visitors. We have been so lucky to have been donated lots of lovely plants for our garden so thank you to Gloria Weir from West Byfleet and to the staff at Woking Park who answered our cry for help when we needed new colour for the courtyard and thank you also to our lovely garden volunteers – Jill, Jan, Mo, Lorraine and Cherry Anne. It was hot but you all kept going to make our garden look fantastic!

We also have a wonderful new sculpture on the gabion wall – highly visible as you drive past The Lightbox. The sculpture is by artist Julian Wild and has a wonderful back story. Robert Baden-Powell, the grandson of the founder of the Scouting movement and Surrey resident, was a passionate art lover and purchased works from many young sculptors- his particular interest being in contemporary sculpture. He loved The Lightbox and when deciding on legacies from his will he provided money for Julian – one of the artists he supported, to make a work for our courtyard, his generosity can now be viewed on our re opening day which is highly appropriate and marks the generosity of a very kind individual. He has also provided a sum of money for a work to be purchased from a young sculptor each year to add to our collection. Further details of the competition will be published next year.

So the garden is bright and full of new things. Inside I hope you will enjoy the same Lightbox sense of calm and welcome as you have always found in the past. The Shop is full of lovely new items and our artists original cabinets are full of beautiful things to brighten up your homes. The Café is taking shape with tables removed to allow very safe enjoyment of those lovely coffees and cakes that we have all been missing. There will be a limited menu to begin with, but lunches are available and more selections will be reintroduced as time goes on. The Upper Gallery is a haven of calm with the most beautiful selection of watercolours from The Ingram Collection. I am sure you will all enjoy taking in the art and spending some time just looking once more – somehow seeing things on screen cannot compare with the real thing, I know you will agree with me.  

The Main Gallery is full of wonderful works from The Ingram Collection and a new feature of this exhibition ‘Redressing The Balance’ is a new audio tour which you can access on your own smartphone. Just download the app Smartify which is free and enjoy a private tour of the exhibition by Jo Baring, Director/Curator of The Ingram Collection. We will be continuing to use Smartify as a means to give you audio tours when it is not possible to use hand held devices because of hygiene concerns.

The exhibition by Jo de Magneval of lockdown photographs is an absolute delight in the Art Fund Prize gallery. Jo is an incredibly talented photographer and during lockdown she began a project to document people she saw looking out through the window of their homes. The results are poignant, sad, and funny and I think will be a reminder of a strange time which has been life changing for so many.

Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful, your love for The Lightbox is always appreciated.

We promise you a safe and pleasant experience when you visit us – pre-booking will ensure the right number of people will be in the building at any one time and full social distancing will be monitored by our staff and volunteers. You can book very easily on our website and if you want to come in at the last minute we hope we will have capacity but it helps us enormously to know how many people are coming in advance. We are cleaning throughout the day and our café will have socially distanced tables inside and plenty of outside seating. We have masks for sale in the shop in case you forget to bring your own.

We so look forward to welcoming you back TOMORROW!


Monday 3 August 2020

Just a reminder for everyone that we are pleased to announce that The Lightbox will reopen next Tuesday, on 11 August.

I am pleased to say that today The Lightbox is very much looking ready to receive visitors once more. The garden is full – well maybe not completely full, just nicely socially distanced tables and chairs with our splendid new Sean Henry sculpture to delight and intrigue. The Shop is full of lovely new items which were delivered in spring and never quite made it onto the shelves and our artist original cabinets are full of beautiful things to brighten up your homes. I must say I have got rather fed up looking at the same things for nearly five months, so the thought of a new cushion or pot is very appealing. The café is taking shape with tables removed to allow very safe enjoyment of those lovely coffees and cakes that we have all been missing. The Upper Gallery is a haven of calm with the most beautiful selection of watercolours from The Ingram Collection. I am sure you will all enjoy taking in the art and spending some time just looking once more – I'm sure you'll agree that seeing things on screen simply cannot compare to the real thing.

The Main Gallery is looking clean and bright again and now is gradually filling with works by renowned women artists – these works date from the key period of Modern British Art up to young contemporary artists like Chloe Wing whose beautiful paper sculpture appeared briefly in the Art Fund Prize Gallery a few years ago. Chloe was a student at University of The Arts London when her work was spotted by Chris Ingram and he bought her work Paper Cage from her degree show in 2014. This time it will have the space and height to show to its full advantage and this is definitely a work not to miss from an incredibly talented young artist. She writes of her work:

"I am a light and shadow paper cutting artist and songwriter who makes immersive and atmospheric installations / spaces. I refer to my artworks as psychological cages as they represent the microcosm of the mind. There is a conflict lurking within my intricate cuttings of comfort as well as isolation and anxiety.

I hand cut cotton paper to have a close relationship with what I create, rather like sewing a quilt at home, it reflects a storytelling within a private, domestic, and intimate setting."

I am really looking forward to tomorrow when Jo de Magneval, the owner of the lovely wine bar in Church Path, Cellar Magneval, will be coming in to install her wonderful photographs in the Art Fund Prize Gallery. Jo is an incredibly talented photographer and during lockdown she began a project to document people she saw looking out through the windows of their homes. The results are poignant, sad, and funny and I think will be a reminder of a strange time which has been life-changing for so many. I believe very firmly that the role of art is to reflect life as we live it and photography has such a strong role as powerful social commentary – please come and see the amazing images that Jo has captured during her daily walks.

Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful. Our artists and makers also need our support more than ever as so many of them have lost income through cancelled fairs, markets, and festivals so we are trying to help them as much as possible – your support is always appreciated.

We promise you a safe and pleasant experience when you visit us – pre-booking will ensure the right number of people will be in the building at any one time and full social distancing will be monitored by our staff and volunteers. You can book very easily on our website and if you do want to come in at the last minute, we hope we will have capacity but you may have to wait. We are cleaning throughout the day and our café will have socially distanced tables inside and plenty of outside seating. We have masks for sale in the Shop in case you forget to bring your own, as government guidelines have now declared face coverings compulsory in museums.

We so look forward to welcoming you back on 11 August.

Best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 27 July 2020

Just a reminder for everyone that we are pleased to announce that The Lightbox will reopen on Tuesday 11 August. Our opening hours will remain the same and our colleagues at Tipsy Pigs will reopen with us. We need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we reopen in August.

Today I am writing this piece from my desk in The Lightbox. It feels very strange to be back at the desk I have occupied for 13 years which in recent months has felt like a remote memory. All our staff are gradually returning, and things are starting to feel familiar again, but it is interesting to reflect on the last few months and how life has changed. I found on my desk a list of all the actions we needed to take before closure on 18 March and a note referring to a "possible" national lockdown. The world has certainly changed since then, but I am pleased to say that The Lightbox is looking and feeling like its old self once again. We will have new things for you to look at as well as revisiting old favourites.

In the courtyard we have a wonderful new sculpture by artist Sean Henry. Residing where HG Wells stayed for a brief stopover before moving across the road, Sean’s work entitled Sleeping Man is the companion piece to the Standing Man in Jubilee Square and is on long term loan to us from the artist. Sean is a Patron of The Lightbox as well as of the York Rd Project in Woking. He was born in Woking and still has a strong affinity for the town although now exhibiting all over the world.

In addition to our new sculpture in the courtyard we will have three great exhibitions to greet you when you come and visit. One that I am particularly looking forward to is in the Art Fund Prize Gallery where we will feature photography by Jo de Magneval, the owner of the lovely wine bar in Church Path, Cellar Magneval. Jo is an incredibly talented photographer and during lockdown, she began a project to document people she saw looking out through the window of their homes. The results are poignant, sad, and funny and I think will be a reminder of a strange time which has been life-changing for so many. I believe very firmly that the role of art is to reflect life as we live it and photography has such a strong role as powerful social commentary – so please come and see the amazing images that Jo has captured during her daily walks, free to view in the Art Fund Prize Gallery.

Thanks to the fantastic support we have received from trusts and foundations, The Arts Council and above all, individual donors, we are in a position where we can reopen, but we will of course depend on people returning to us and renewing memberships and continuing their support through the Autumn and Winter, to get us through this very dark and difficult year. Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful.

We promise you a safe and pleasant experience when you visit us – pre-booking (available online from 3 August) will ensure the right number of people will be in the building at any one time and full social distancing will be monitored by our staff and volunteers. We are cleaning throughout the day and our café will have socially distanced tables inside and plenty of outside seating. Our shop will feature lots of lovely new products and there will be the chance to buy the work of local artists once more. They need our support more than ever as so many of them have lost income through cancelled fairs, markets, and festivals so we are trying to help them as much as possible – your support is always appreciated. We so look forward to welcoming you back on 11 August.

My very best,
Marilyn


Monday 20 July 2020

Just a reminder for everyone that we are pleased to announce that The Lightbox will reopen on Tuesday 11 August. Our opening hours will remain the same and our colleagues at Seasons Café will reopen with us. We need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we're open in August.

Many museums, as I am sure you have seen in the press, have reopened since 4 July, the first official date that museums could open. There have been varying reactions, but overall gallery and museum visitors have been pretty determined to return to the places they love. The Royal Academy has seen sell outs every day and Picasso and Paper, the current show, is now officially sold out.

However, a recent survey by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has shown that about 50% of regular museum goers are still feeling nervous about visiting. Many worries are about toilets, cleaning, having to take public transport. They are certainly not about the experience itself of once again looking at beautiful and stimulating art but about those additional services which are so important to get right.

I wanted to reassure all those who are considering coming back in August and also those who have written this off as something they don’t yet feel ready for: the safety of our visitors is key and the whole staff team have been engaged, working together to bring in all the social distancing that will keep you safe when visiting The Lightbox. Please rest assured that we are doing everything that we can to make the experience welcoming and enjoyable as ever with the familiar Lightbox sense of caring but now coupled with a real sense of safe and well organised social distancing. There is the added advantage for those of you who are fairly local that you do not have to take public transport into central London to enjoy very high-quality art shows, they are here on your doorstep.

So, a little about what can you expect when you visit on the 11 August. We will have pre-booking in palce, thereby ensuring the building will not be crowded, full social distancing with all staff and volunteers wearing masks or visors. All our toilets are single cubicle with washing facilities, so you will not be sharing hand-washing facilities with others. Cleaning of the building and particularly the toilets will be continuous all the time we are open. Door handles, handrails will all be cleaned during our opening hours and hand sanitiser stations are throughout the building.

We will have a one-way system round the exhibitions, but reduced numbers will allow you to browse for as long as you wish. We will be able to offer our usual excellent catering service with coffee and cake or a lovely lunch returning as usual. Café tables will be spread widely apart, and we will have increased seating in the courtyard to allow us to maintain our usual capacity with more emphasis on outdoor eating. We are confident the experience will be welcoming and enjoyable but will make you feel safe and protected.

We will have three great exhibitions to greet you when you come. One that I am particularly looking forward to is in the Art Fund Prize Gallery where we will feature works from Jo de Magneval, the owner of the lovely wine bar in Church Path, Cellar Magneval. Jo is an incredibly talented photographer and during lockdown she began a project to document people she saw looking out through the window of their homes. The results are poignant, sad and funny and I think will be a reminder of a strange time which has been life changing for so many. I believe very firmly that the role of art is to reflect life as we live it and photography has such a strong role as powerful social commentary – please come and see the amazing images that Jo has captured during her daily walks.

Thanks to the fantastic support we have received from trusts and foundations, The Arts Council, and above all individual donors we will be in a position to reopen. We will, of course, depend on people returning to us and renewing memberships and continuing their support through autumn and winter, to get us through this very difficult year. Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful.

Best,
Marilyn


Monday 13 July 2020

Just a reminder for everyone that we are pleased to announce that The Lightbox will reopen on Tuesday 11 August 2020. Our opening hours will remain the same and our colleagues at Tipsy Pigs will reopen with us. In addition, it is absolutely great to be able to tell you that last week, staff began to move back to work in The Lightbox building for the first time. Our Exhibitions team led by Peter Hall moved back to begin taking down the exhibitions, in readiness for a new set of exhibitions to welcome you all on 11 August.

We looked at the Hockney works for the last time before they were packed, in readiness for their return, and it was a very sad moment that such a great exhibition was cut short when many people were still to see it. It made me realise that we have no idea what is just around the corner – when we opened the show, we had such high hopes of good visitor numbers and a burgeoning membership scheme. Our major worries were - would we exceed the 100,000 visitors we usually welcome in the financial year and would we end the year with a healthy balance of income against expenditure? Little did we know that within months, the whole building would be closed, and we would be worrying about whether we would ever open again. Walking through the building is definitely a rather strange experience as the Mother’s Day display and Easter bunnies still remain in the Shop and time has definitely stood still!

Thanks to the fantastic support we have received from trusts and foundations, The Arts Council and above all, individual donors, we will be in a position to reopen, but we will of course depend on people returning to us and renewing memberships and continuing their support through the Autumn and Winter to get us through this very dark and difficult year. Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful.

Last week I mentioned our art auction, the proceeds of which will help us to reopen, at a time when our financial position has been severely affected by our closure. It is now up and running and will end on Thursday 16 July, so please visit our friends' website Ewbanks auctions to place your bids. There are some very impressive lots so please bid if you can. We have a fundraising target of £75,000 which will help us to continue our Art and Wellbeing programme and retain the exciting programme of exhibitions that was in place before COVID-19.

Our staff will continue to come back to work in the building over the next two weeks and of course, the first priority is to put in place all our special measures to ensure the safety of our staff, our volunteers and visitors. Staff will continue to spend some time working at home to ensure we can meet the requirements of social distancing, but the office will be staffed from 11 August, our reopening date. Our telephone line and our email contact has been retained throughout the whole of lockdown and will continue up until "normal service" is resumed on the 11 August.

The safety of our visitors is also key and the whole staff team have been engaged, working together as a great team, to bring in all of the social distancing measures that will keep you all safe when visiting The Lightbox. Please rest assured that we are doing everything that we can to make the experience welcoming and enjoyable as ever with the familiar Lightbox sense of caring, but now coupled with a real sense of safe and well organised social distancing.

We know even our most dedicated visitors may feel apprehensive about returning just yet and of course we cannot escape the severe financial loss that five months closure will result in. Just to give you an example of our situation, in a normal year we would welcome 100,000 visitors through our doors to enjoy our exhibitions, Woking's Story, Café, and Shop. This financial year we are expecting to welcome just 25,000 visitors with all the financial impact that will have.

We need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we reopen in August.

Best,

Marilyn


Monday 6 July 2020

Late last night the news began to break of the amazing £1.57bn package of support for the arts and culture. This is a very welcome result after weeks of lobbying DCMS and the government to prevent theatres, museums, live music venues and galleries from closure. For some, it may be too late, but it is incredibly gratifying to us that at last, the government has seen how important the sector is to the country and to the economy. The package of support must be spread far and wide – our great national institutions like The National Theatre and the V&A will be supported to ensure that our tourist economy returns in London.

What was also particularly good to see in the minister’s statement last night was the announcement that some of the money was intended to support smaller cultural organisations that play a vital part in their local community. Some of the funding is also to support heritage buildings and restoration projects. Quite how this money will be distributed and spread through the country is yet to be revealed, but it is wonderful to see the understanding in government that reopening alone will not quickly return the sector to normal.

The Lightbox is no exception – we know even our most dedicated visitors may feel apprehensive about returning just yet and of course we cannot escape the severe financial loss that five months' closure will result in. In a normal year we would welcome 100,000 visitors through our doors to enjoy our exhibitions, museum, café and shop. This financial year we are expecting to welcome just 25,000 visitors - bringing in just a quarter of our annual income, which will significantly impact our charity over the coming months and quite possibly, years.

Another feature of the announcements last night was a fund to support apprenticeship opportunities and training posts in the cultural sector. This is especially welcome as the chance for young people to get jobs in the sector, at present, is minimal. Employment in the cultural sector is always problematic for young people. In the "mists of time" when I first entered the profession after University, the only way to get enough experience to be offered a paid post was to volunteer. This necessitated having supportive parents to help out, or working in the evenings and weekends to allow you this opportunity. Many decades later, I am sad to say the situation has not improved and the same culture of entry requirements exists. For organisations to be given financial support to provide a training opportunity for young people is an incredibly welcome move. Life for those trying to enter any profession now after the pandemic will be hugely challenging so we absolutely support this funding.

As a reminder, we are so pleased to be able to announce that The Lightbox will reopen on Tuesday 11 August. Our opening hours will remain the same and our colleagues at Tipsy Pigs will be reopening with us. We know the experience will be different but we are determined that we will still be able to retain the usual welcoming approach from our staff and volunteers, while giving you confidence that we have done everything we can to follow the necessary precautions.

Last week I mentioned our art auction, the proceeds of which will help us to reopen, at a time when our financial position has been severely affected by our closure. It is now up and running so please browse the artworks on offer via Ewbanks Auctions. There are some very impressive lots so please bid if you can.

Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful. We have a fundraising target of £75,000 which will help us to continue our Art and Wellbeing programme and retain the exciting programme of exhibitions that was in place before COVID-19. We need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we reopen on 11 August 2020.

Looking forward to welcoming you soon.

My very best,

Marilyn


Monday 29 June 2020

Last week was a week of announcements and change and of course, the very welcome announcement that museums and galleries can open from 4 July. I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce that The Lightbox will reoopen on Tuesday 11 August. Our opening hours will remain the same and we very much hope that our colleagues at Tipsy Pigs will reopen with us.

We know the experience will be different but we are determined to still retain the usual welcoming approach from our staff and volunteers, while giving you confidence that we have done everything we can to follow the necessary precautions. We will be reopening with an Ingram exhibition in our Main Gallery, appropriate that we should reopen celebrating our long and fruitful partnership with The Ingram Collection. It is nearly 20 years ago that I first met Chris Ingram and began discussions on how we might use his wonderful collection of Modern British Art in our new building - then, only a dream for us all. The relationship went from strength to strength and the collection continues to be a main feature of our exhibition programme and can of course be seen all around the building.

The collection has also been central to our art and wellbeing work and we are ever grateful to Chris and his desire to make the it as accessible as possible for everyone. Today, the collection travels the country through an extensive loans programme but always comes back home to Woking where Chris has always wanted it to stay, to be enjoyed by the local community. It is highly fitting that after nearly five months of "darkness", The Lightbox will open showing the beauties and surprises of this highly valued and very personal art collection.

Last week I mentioned our art auction, the proceeds of which will help us to reopen at a time when our financial position has been severely affected by our closure. Even the costs of reopening are considerable as we need to put in place all the precautions you are now familiar with in shops, but also employ extra staff to ensure social distancing is respected. Our corporate supporters Ewbanks, based at Burnt Common in Ripley, have come up trumps and will be running the online auction for us from this week until Thurs 16 July. We are so grateful for their continued support during this difficult time. We have some amazing artworks, all donated by artists and supporters and it is a great chance to buy some lovely art and help The Lightbox at the same time.

Your donations and messages of support have been so welcome while we have been closed and we could not be more grateful. We have a fundraising target of £75,000 which will help us to continue our Art and Wellbeing programme and retain the exciting programme of exhibitions that was in place before COVID-19. This would have been a great year for us, but we cannot look back. We're looking forward to the future with a real sense of optimism – we need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we reopen in August.

Please all of you stay safe and well. Please keep in touch via the website where we will post news of the date of reopening.

Best wishes to you all,

Marilyn


Monday 22 June 2020

I do hope that you are all keeping well and enjoying the wonderful weather we are experiencing. Today I went back to The Lightbox to begin our planning for re-opening. I can tell you that the garden is a riot of beautiful roses and abundant foliage but with quite a lot of work for our wonderful team of volunteer gardeners!

We have a lot of work to do to ensure that we can make The Lightbox a safe place for you all to visit once more. We are determined that we will still be able to retain the usual welcoming approach from our staff and volunteers, while giving you confidence that we have done everything we can to follow the necessary precautions.

A much-respected colleague of mine said last week 'visitors want a sanitised building but not a sanitised experience'  I thought this was absolutely right and what we very much want to achieve for you all. We are fortunate in that, unlike many of the London galleries, coming to The Lightbox is never a crowded experience and you can often be in the gallery almost alone enjoying a brilliant array of beautiful art works, with the chance to browse in peace. We will retain this sense of peace and tranquillity by carefully monitoring the number of people in the building and the individual galleries at any one time.

We are training our staff to help visitors to maintain social distancing at all times, but we very much hope to be able to open the café with fewer tables and the shop as usual. We will rely more heavily on outdoor seating at first, but the cleanliness of the building is paramount. We intend to provide hand sanitiser throughout the building and have cleaning staff present throughout our opening period. We view your safety and the safety of our wonderful volunteers as our highest priority, so please rest assured, we are engaged in an intensive period of planning to get everything ready for our reopening.

I just wanted to say thank you for all the lovely messages coming from our supporters, many of whom have donated money to help us get through the inevitable financial difficulties we face. We have also been hugely supported by our artists whose work we show regularly either in the shop or in exhibitions. They have very generously donated works of art or unusual experiences to an auction which we will be staging in July. Please do watch our website for final details of how to bid and help The Lightbox to reopen even stronger than before.

This week we launch online a fantastic exhibition of the work of final year students at Woking College. Sadly for them, their usual annual show due to take place this month at The Lightbox had to be abandoned, but working with the college we have been able to create a great online exhibition – please do have a look. The quality of the work as ever is amazing, and we do wish all the incredibly talented students well and hope they are able to pursue their careers, despite these difficult times.

I am sure all our staff are anxious to get back into the building again and to begin to rebuild our programme and bring back things that had to be postponed back in March. It feels like time has stood still but we are determined to pick up where we left off and bring you a great autumn programme.

We are looking at our events, for example, and thinking creatively about how these can be staged with the correct social distancing. We all know it will be challenging but our staff never avoid a challenge, so I am confident that our next 'What’s On' will contain a selection of events for you to enjoy whether you join us in person or online.

We had two wonderful outdoor events planned over the summer and we hope to be able to invite you to at least one of these in the coming months, so please watch the website for details of how to book. Our Exhibitions team are heading back to work and the last preparations for Raphael, due to open in October, are well underway so the excitement is certainly mounting. We look to the future with a real sense of optimism – we need your support now more than ever so please stick with us and plan to come back as soon as we reopen.

Please all of you stay safe and well. Keep in touch via the website where we will post news of the date of reopening.

Best,

Marilyn


Monday 15 June 2020

There has been a strange sensation over the last three months that life has almost stood still. We have got used to a new routine and for a lot of people, that is what has kept them going. It has produced a sense of certainty in a very uncertain world. For me, the strangeness has been that every day is very much the same and this is so different to my usual life. Normally, I would be doing something different every day - attending meetings away from The Lightbox, meeting up with our partner organisations, networking with other museums and galleries.

The current situation we find ourselves in has shown that we should never take life for granted, as the bottom has well and truly fallen out of our world at The Lightbox over the last few months. However, the can-do attitude and the resilience of our staff has been amazing and never once have we allowed ourselves to fall into despair or felt the challenge was too great. I have found enormous comfort from all the lovely messages coming from our supporters, many of whom have donated money to help us get through the inevitable financial difficulties we face.

What has also really kept me going is the determination of our Exhibitions team to keep planning ahead. This could have been a hard thing to do emotionally as they saw all the amazing work they had done on the Hockney exhibition cut short, just at the point where it was showing itself as one of the most popular exhibitions we have ever staged. To think of all those people who missed the chance to see the show makes us incredibly sad, but more determined to keep on doing what we know brings so much pleasure to our audience.

Strangely, one of the pleasures - we have always been told - of attending exhibitions at The Lightbox is the chance to enjoy wonderful works of art in peace and tranquility, without any crowds. That may well be the way we will all be able to enjoy exhibitions in the future, but can this way of viewing be financially viable for all, with the massive overheads at places like The Royal Academy?

The team have picked themselves up and carried on planning with the knowledge that bringing great works of art to Woking is central to our mission. The process of planning exhibitions is fascinating because there is no set recipe. It is the result of many different conversations, influences, contacts, and approaches from others. From this jumble of ideas, the strongest gradually come through. This is one of the best parts of my job, when I sit in on those early discussions and we weigh up the strengths of a variety of concepts. How strong is the idea – do we think it will be popular? How readily available might the loans be? Does it mark a special anniversary or birthday so we can be sure there will be good media coverage? Some ideas take many years to come to fruition - we have been discussing Canaletto, for example, for at least five years and only now have we taken the bold step to again approach The Royal Collection about possible loans. My job is to make sure all the ideas are ambitious, workable and will appeal to you, our all-important audience. The list for the next three years is indeed ambitious – Bridget Riley, Canaletto, Matisse, Lucien Freud.

We're looking forward. We're looking up. And we're hopeful that once again, we can welcome you to the stunning exhibitions we have become so well known for.

My very best,

Marilyn


Monday 8 June 2020

I heard a comment on Breakfast News this morning that the media and journalists are completely overwhelmed with the volume of news at the moment. The focus has progressed from COVID-19, opinions on the effectiveness of the government, Dominic Cummings' eyesight and the return of football, to a more global issue, that of Black Lives Matter.

Museums are, of course, places that represent and teach history. They represent and create a sense of belonging and reflect a community. What museums are asking themselves at this moment is how well do we represent the history of the Black community?

The removal of the statue of Colston in Bristol yesterday has been under discussion by historians for a long time. His shameful legacy in Bristol is still strong and questioned by many. I am sure colleagues at Bristol Museum would welcome the chance to tell the truth about how his wealth was accumulated on the back of thousands of Black lives, which to him, clearly did not matter. This is a key role of museums - to tell the truth, to educate young people about the legacy of colonialism, slavery and why racial prejudice should be obliterated.

Museums all over the world are speaking out about this issue and in the UK there is a growing movement. My own professional association, The Museums Association, has said:

"The MA stands with all people of colour in the fight against racial injustice and inequality. The recent killing of George Floyd highlights the need for real change in how we address racism and diversity as a society and in our museums.

We acknowledge that museums have an important role to play in recognising and challenging historic oppression and that our collections, knowledge, independence and ethics can be used to highlight the issues that matter to our communities and wider audiences. Museums have a critical role to play in building a society that is diverse, inclusive, tolerant and respectful and the MA will continue to support them to do that."

For The Lightbox, an organisation grown from and by its own community, the need to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion is paramount to our mission. We have always been aware and proud of the diverse community we serve, and we try to reflect honestly the many different stories that make up the histories of those communities.

However, words are not enough and action is long overdue in many areas. We are painfully aware of a lack of diversity in the museum profession, particularly at higher levels.

The Lightbox strives for equal opportunity through all our recruitment processes and we have been part of a number of initiatives to bring racial diversity into the profession. Staff are trained in unconscious bias; recruitment advertisements are placed locally and look at various life skills in place of academic qualifications; communities see their history genuinely reflected in the museum displays. But it has never been enough. The call to us all working in museums now, is to be actively anti-racist.

A museum colleague, the Director of The Black Cultural Archive in London, has summed it up perfectly for all of us:

"Could we, as the sector which holds our nation’s heritage, please take leadership in making a stand in solidarity together – archives and museums, workforce and leadership, to commit to being actively anti-racist (not just diverse and inclusive)?"

We are hugely proud to be the guardian of the history of the multicultural town we serve, and we will continue to support our colleagues working against systemic racism within and beyond museum walls. We promise to listen, to learn, to strive to be better, and to act, not just react. I believe we owe this to our visitors, our staff and to those stories with which we are entrusted.

My very best,

Marilyn


Monday 1 June 2020

I asked myself this morning – how did it get to be June? What happened to April and May? For those of us at The Lightbox, they passed by with mixed emotions and challenges. When we first closed in March, I think we were in a state of shock about having to close quite suddenly and of course, our first thought was for the safety of our staff, our volunteers and our lovely building, as well as the terrible situation we saw unfolding around us. We then began the lengthy process of getting used to staring at a computer screen eight hours a day, not walking through the building greeting friends and visitors and walking around the lovely exhibitions on show. The Zoom conference call was quite a novelty at first – seeing into each other’s houses and sometimes makeshift offices, but we have all realised how tiring this form of communication is, as the all-important body language is missing which we all use as such an important feature of everyday communication. We have all missed each other’s company – we cannot love the people we work with all the time but working at The Lightbox is like being part of a family. For those of us who have been there a long time, we know each other’s families, partners, and children – both of my children were brought up with The Lightbox and worked there at different stages. For most people, the majority of your week is spent with your work colleagues rather than your own family, so the strangeness of not seeing each other - except from through a blurry screen - has been hard.

Also, of course, we were faced with the challenge of keeping all of you in touch with The Lightbox and considering how we could best help our community through the difficult times we were facing. We moved our Lightbox offer online and over two months, we have turned out a very impressive range of online activities, competitions, news, and this week, our first online exhibition. I hope you have found time to browse through these and it has helped to bring a little of The Lightbox spirit to you in your own homes.

It quickly became clear that our financial situation was going to become incredibly challenging as the weeks go by without any income coming in at all. As an independent organisation very reliant on our income generating activities – membership, shop, café, hiring out our spaces, we have seen our income levels decline rapidly. We made the decision to furlough some of our staff and the government support has been vital, but the challenge remains as to how we can keep running our really important community projects when we have no income. We started fundraising almost immediately and have a target of £75,000 to be raised from trust applications and public donations. We are so grateful to all those who have helped so far but we still have a way to go – The Arts Council funding that I reported on last week was a huge boost and we hope more trusts and foundations and all of you will join them in helping us.

We have now arrived at the exciting but challenging period when we plan to reopen, which we hope will be in late summer. We are planning all the measures we need to put in place to keep our visitors, staff, and volunteers safe. This produces another financial challenge as none of these measures come without a cost, but the need to protect and keep everyone safe is still the reality and that must be uppermost in our minds.

We are also looking into the future which is great for morale and creating a sense of hope that our exhibition programme will soon be rolling out again. We are currently researching two new possible exhibitions for 2022 and 2023: Canaletto and Matisse - two vastly different but equally important figures in art history that we hope to be able to bring to Woking in the future. Our Raphael exhibition will open in October thanks to the generosity of HM The Queen and The Royal Collection and will be followed closely in February by Bridget Riley, who celebrates her 90th birthday in 2021.

I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe, and secure and we look forward to seeing you again in late Summer. Please keep in touch via the website where we will post news of the date of reopening.

Best,

Marilyn


Tuesday 26 May 2020

I do hope that you all enjoyed a lovely Bank Holiday weekend – the weather was glorious in the latter part and it so helped to be able to sit in the garden and realise that whatever is happening within society, nature remains the same. The birds sing and all the beautiful peonies still bloom.

I had the best start to my weekend when I heard late on Friday that we had received Emergency Funding from Arts Council England. We are so incredibly grateful to receive support from this lottery fund and we are above all grateful to everyone who purchases lottery tickets - the funds of which support creative arts all over the country. ACE have been long-time supporters of The Lightbox through project-funding since all the way back in 2003 when they gave funding to our project 'Radiance' which funded the ground-breaking ceremony before construction of our beautiful building began. Through a scheme called Art+, they also funded the beautiful light installation by artist Peter Freeman which created the coloured lights and glass which now grace our ground floor window. Since opening, they have funded a number of our projects including our community support work and a major piece of audience development research looking at how we engage younger audiences. Thank you, Arts Council England.

I think what has become very obvious to me over the last months is that all the partnerships we have forged, sometimes over long periods, have become even more important. Trust between organisations and recognition of shared aims is key when times are hard, and we really recognise the value of long-term support. Many of our supporters, both individual and companies, are sticking by us and renewing memberships and making donations, realising that only through their support can we continue to operate with no income coming in.

The Lightbox owes its very existence to partnership, from our early beginnings, when Woking Borough Council had the foresight to create the right conditions to allow an arts organisation to thrive in the town. Local organisations like Woking History Society and Woking Art Society threw all their support behind us to make sure the project happened. We have gone on to build on those partnerships to include local companies like Squires and Ewbanks, who provide financial and in-kind support and in return enjoy seeing their name associated with an acclaimed local project.

We are working very closely with the arts and attractions community in Surrey to make judgements about reopening. Our friends at Painshill will be re-opening this coming Thursday in line with government recommendations on ticketed gardens. They need to make their income through the summer when their main paying audience comes. Once the chilly Autumn winds start, their visitor numbers naturally decline. Our task is slightly different in that summer is quieter for us, apart from the school holidays when we usually run our workshops and garden activities.

Our challenge is greater as we are working with a largely indoor space, so our precautions must be doubly stringent. We are currently working on all our precautions and will be ready to welcome you all back as soon as it is deemed safe. We also have to judge when you would feel comfortable about coming back again - whether this is when restrictions are lifted or later, so we are watching carefully the mood of the country as shops and hairdressers and more reopen - much to the relief of many of us. However, the need to protect and keep everyone safe is still the reality and that must be uppermost in our minds.

I wanted again to stress how amazing our staff have been during this time, supporting me 110% and being so flexible, stepping up to complete tasks they might not usually undertake. We are just so glad that everyone has remained well (apart from computer screen overload and a wish to never attend another video conference call!) Thanks, team.

All the best,

Marilyn


Tuesday 19 May 2020

Good morning, everyone. The forecast is for a fantastic week of weather ahead – warmer than Malaga, so for those of us who love the sun that must be a good omen. I must confess to trying not to look at the news so much as I have previously, as it is alternately confusing and depressing for those of us trying hard to look to the future and make plans for our organisations. The current debate about return to school is a case in point where there are so many differing views. In the end it will come down to the common sense of parents and their own particular situations and feelings. Once again, I want to reassure everyone who usually, at this time of year, would be sitting in the courtyard enjoying a lovely cappuccino, that we have your health and safety very much in mind as we plan for reopening. We have a very clear end game in that we need to be up and running and back in business well before the opening of our Raphael exhibition in October so we are working back from that to ensure we have social distancing measures and precautions well in place. However, the need to protect and keep everyone safe is still the reality we must live with and that must be uppermost in our minds.

I was reading an interesting article today from the much-respected arts journalist Charlotte Higgins. She was speaking about the future of the arts in the UK and how in her opinion the exceedingly difficult time that we are all having might see a change of attitude. We all know that both visual and performing arts will do well to come out of these months of closure with a skeleton of our arts offer still in place, but she does see some positivity creeping in. She says of the arts organisations at risk:

"Losing them would mean not only losing an extraordinary arts infrastructure, in which so much of British national identity is bound up, but the network of education, social care and community work that the organisations provide."

She speaks specifically of museums and very much echoes what myself and my colleagues have been thinking when modelling a scenario of reduced visitor numbers due to social distancing, and says:

"In fact, for some museums the experience of visiting could be considerably enhanced for those who actually get in – though the extra hurdles may deter the tentative or first-time visitor, and those in fragile health are likely to stay away altogether. But this kind of model will be financially crippling, especially for museums that depend on being busy, extracting as much spend from each visitor as possible. Income from shops and cafes will plummet."

However, she then goes on to say that following WWII - and we are hearing that rather inexact comparison a lot, the arts thrived. The Arts Council was born out of the belief that people needed something to make their lives better and give them pleasure after the years of war, and so perhaps after the lockdown, people will really appreciate what they have been missing and financial support for the arts and culture will be reinvigorated.

I just wanted to say a huge thanks to all team Lightbox for their fantastic work over the last eight weeks to keep things running – from keeping our building safe and secure to making sure everyone gets paid, all the vital jobs have continued, alongside our amazing marketing team who have been sending out content like this every week. Also, a big thank you to our trustees who have given up time using their new found Zoom skills to support me and my team with wise advice and support. I also wanted to thank The Tipsy Pigs who have been producing meals for the NHS, and have been working hard to keep their business afloat. They have a lovely home-delivered barbeque offer for this coming Bank Holiday weekend – do support them if you are considering some al fresco dining!

I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe, and secure and we look forward to seeing you again quite soon! Please keep in touch via the website where we will post news of when we might reopen.

Best wishes to you all,

Marilyn


Monday 11 May 2020

I hope you enjoyed the sunshine over the weekend, aside from perhaps the plummeting temperature yesterday! Like many of you I am sure, I watched the statement from the Prime Minister last night. I must confess to very mixed feelings following on from the broadcast. We all want to get back to our normal lives; we are missing our families and colleagues and doing the things we enjoy and jobs we love. However, the need to protect and keep everyone safe is still the reality we must live with and that must be uppermost in our minds.

All the staff at The Lightbox are anxious to be able to resume their work and to welcome you, our visitors, back again, but only when we can be certain that we can do this safely and with the ability to make you feel cared for and protected.

We are currently looking at all the precautions that will be necessary both for our staff, volunteers and for visitors, and planning how we will implement these. Not until we are sure that we have achieved these to the highest standards will we feel able to reopen. There were indications in the Prime Minister's speech that July might be a time when public buildings can reopen. We all appreciate nothing can be exact and everything depends on how well contained the pandemic is, but we will begin to look forward in anticipation of when this might be possible. Please rest assured that your safety is our paramount concern above any financial considerations, and we will keep you informed as plans develop.

We will hope to reopen with our usual range of exhibitions in all three galleries and of course Woking’s Story. We will also be having discussions with Seasons about the re-opening of the café – we may well look to moving to continental-style outside eating – let’s all hope for a lovely late Summer, weather-wise. One of the important things about The Lightbox experience is the warm welcome given by our volunteers. They are such an integral part of who we are that we will be paying particular attention to how we enable them to return safely to us. We keep in touch but we miss them all!

In the meantime, we continue to deliver all our activities online. There is a fantastic array of different activities, from keeping your children entertained to joining our weekly photo challenge and looking in-depth at one piece of artwork each week, which is a calming and relaxing experience.

We know that when we re open there will be a real need for the swift resumption of all our valuable community work. Our Art in Mind participants are missing the regular stimulation and comfort of meeting as a group, and the care homes we visit will need the creative activities we provide even more as they try to rebuild the lives of all their residents after such a difficult and frightening time.

We know that we will need funds to extend these programmes when our own financial situation is incredibly challenging so please do help if possible. If you can help by donating or extending your membership, we would be so grateful for anything you can do. To all those very generous people who have already helped we are so incredibly grateful, all your donations will go towards bringing our community support programmes back on the day we reopen.

All the very best,

Marilyn


Monday 4 May 2020

Welcome once again to my Monday blog! Like everyone else, all our staff are very frustrated at being stuck at home as there is so much to do and to get on with at The Lightbox. This week would have seen the opening of our Raphael exhibition which we have worked so hard on over the last three years. Fortunately, we have been able to reschedule for October, so all is not lost!

We are now entering our seventh week of closure and I have started to feel a real sense of separation anxiety - I so miss my colleagues, our lovely volunteers, our visitors and my regular cappuccino at Seasons, as well as - of course, our beautiful building with the light flooding in. However, any frustration we may all be experiencing pales into insignificance beside the extraordinary work of our health and care workers, and the impact COVID-19 has had on so many people, either personally or through friends and family. We have been thinking particularly of our friends at York Road who have done a magnificent job of protecting the homeless in our community and of course our own Art In Mind participants and all those in care homes and the hospices we regularly support through creative activities. Our role at The Lightbox as a place of refuge and recuperation will be so needed in the future and really does reinforce the need for nurturing and healing spaces with creative opportunities, for people who have suffered emotional and health challenges in their lives.

The impact of COVID-19 on The Lightbox has been considerable. Financially, this year will be pretty disastrous in terms of cancelled or postponed events and, like everybody else, we are praying for as early a resumption of normal life, whatever that proves to be, as possible. We have had to furlough a lot of our team to conserve much-needed funds and expenditure to keep the place running is being kept to the absolute minimum as we cannot earn an income. It is a time both for survival through such difficult circumstances, but also an opportunity to plan for the future. We know that when we're open, there will be a natural nervousness about public spaces. This is particularly sad for us as we have always prided ourselves on being a safe space for all and a place of great welcome. We would really welcome your thoughts about what might help for you, and what you would like to see in order to help you to return to us once more. Naturally, people will feel worried about socialising again and coming to galleries. We will do all we can when we re open to think creatively about keeping our visitors safe so please email me if you have ideas you would like to suggest, or even just to let us know how you are feeling about visiting us again.

When we re-open, we want to be able to start delivering all our community programmes again as soon as possible, as we know they will be much needed. To do this, we will urgently need funds to kickstart everything. If you can help by donating or extending your membership, we would be so grateful. To all those very generous people who have already helped, we are so incredibly grateful. All your donations will go towards bringing our community support programmes back as soon as we re-open.

I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe and secure and we look forward to seeing you again quite soon! Please keep in touch via the website where we will post news of when we might re-open and the programme of exhibitions we have in store until the end of the year.

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 27 April 2020

Welcome once again to my Monday blog! I am sure we are beginning to think – albeit very tentatively – to the time when we all might venture outside our homes once more and return to normal life.

Many people are writing about how things may never be quite the same again and how we will have a quite different approach to some parts of our lives - for example, how we enjoy culture and the arts. For many, encouragingly, they feel that the appreciation of the arts and creativity will be even greater after the pandemic comes to an end. At The Lightbox, we are not really surprised by this positive message as it is one we had been advocating for a long time in the pre-COVID-19 world.

But how will things have changed and how can we make our beautiful building welcoming and safe for everyone to enjoy? I can assure you we will be thinking extremely hard about that in the weeks to come as we really want everyone to be able to enjoy all the great things The Lightbox has to offer as soon as possible. Naturally, people will feel worried about socialising again and coming to public places. We will do all we can when we re-open to think creatively about keeping our visitors safe.

In an inspirational article in The Evening Standard last week Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said:

"Natural nervousness will surround future social interaction, and so museums can help us appreciate, in the balm-like presence of great art, the vital, human importance of being present together. Well-visited and well-managed museums must serve as energetic and meaningful institutions in this fraught and isolated age."

We cannot wait for the day when, once again, we are able to provide these very special experiences for you – we know The Lightbox holds a very special place in many of your lives, so to reassure you – with your help – we will be back!

We are adding new activities to try at home to our blog every week - including these therapeutic zentangles - and more insights into what our staff are doing in their gardens – building sculptures from the photographs I have recently seen!

I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe and secure and we look forward to seeing you again quite soon!

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 20 April 2020

Hello on a bright but very breezy morning!

I am seeing increasingly, in the press, reports of how the current lockdown is benefitting wildlife and the environment –people noticing more bees in their gardens, clearer skies, fewer smells of fumes and pollution for those who live in town centres. I am sure when all this ends, we will value the things we take for granted so much more. I realise how much the Lightbox community means to me – the chance to come and have a chat with volunteers and visitors, hear people's comments about how much they love the latest exhibition or how much they have enjoyed a talk or tour. It all makes our work so worthwhile and when it isn’t there, you realise how much of a motivator it is for all of us.

My work now is very much focused on raising money and applying for funding. We are lucky in that we have some small reserves which will help to keep us going while we have no income coming in, but we are well aware that as the months go by, this will dwindle into nothing. Our problems will get even more serious when we open again and have all the running costs to pay, from what we expect will be a much-reduced income. Naturally, people will feel worried about socialising again and coming to public places. We will do all we can when we re-open to think creatively about keeping our visitors safe – we know many of our older visitors will want to take things slowly and only visit again when they feel ready.

This makes it even more necessary to raise some funding now, which will sustain us through the difficult times ahead. Please do all you can to help, even if it is only by buying a membership if you are not currently a member, or if you are, please consider upgrading your membership to a Supporter, which carries lots of other exciting benefits.

Thank you so much for your support, well-wishes and ideas so far.

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Tuesday 14 April 2020

Hello again everyone, I hope that you were all able to enjoy a lovely Easter weekend even if it was a little different for all of us.

I do hope that you are all keeping well and safe and finding new things to do or reviving old hobbies that you usually don’t have the time for. We are trying to provide as many resources as possible to keep you and your families busy. Our teams are still working away at home so please look at a selection of our digital programmes that they are creating:

  • Art for Normals is for everyone - you don't need to be an accomplished artist to enjoy this bi-weekly blog.
  • Operation Entertain-my-Kids is a series of weekly crafts using bits and bobs at home to keep the kids entertained.
  • How to Draw provides bi-weekly drawing tips and techniques for anyone who wants to improve their skills.

One of the things that I miss the most is our beautiful Lightbox building. Having seen it emerge from the ground way back in 2006 and seen every part of it created from scratch, it holds a very special place in my heart. Walking through the ground floor on a sunny summer day has a very special feel as the sun streams through the glass and creates beautiful patterns on the floor. I began to think about this a lot sitting at home and I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the insights into the creation of the building with you all. I will be writing about the building on the blog, for your interest, over the coming weeks.

We also hope to bring you more content around our past exhibitions and indeed will be launching a new online exhibition for you very soon so keep watching the website and our e-newsletters for all this online content. We have a virtual tour of the Hockney exhibition now online and more insights into our exhibitions will follow.

We are all missing each other and you, our visitors, a lot and will really value a friendly face and a familiar smile when we return. I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe and secure and we look forward to seeing you again quite soon!

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 6 April 2020

Hello again everyone. I do hope that you are all keeping well and that you were able to take advantage of the lovely sunny weekend in your garden or on your daily walk.

Thank you so much for all the messages of support we have been receiving and to all of you who have been making donations, an enormous thank you. There are lots of ways to support us – through the Donate page on our website but also schemes like Names In Glass which you may remember allows you to have your name displayed on the glass panels throughout the building. At £150, it might be a nice idea to think how you can make your mark in the building on our return. Please also keep supporting our lovely Tipsy Pigs team who are keeping busy preparing meals for NHS staff at their Guildford Cathedral kitchen! Great work, guys - we are all hoping you stay well and a big thank you for everything you are doing.

Our Marketing and Learning teams are keeping busy putting lots of fun, creative content on the website. As Easter approaches, we would have been looking forward to lots of lovely activities around the building but we will just have to content ourselves with creating and making at home. We are also trying to bring The Lightbox to you in your homes – just so as you don’t forget us! We have a virtual tour of the Hockney exhibition now online and more insights into our exhibitions will follow.

Please make use of our resources and watch the website and blog. We are all working at home so can respond to you if you just want to keep in touch. We are in regular contact with our volunteers – many who live alone. We are all missing each other a lot and will value all our friendly chats so much more when we return.

We have had to regrettably accept that our summer of events will not go ahead as planned, so please email us if you would like to obtain a refund for your tickets or to donate the cost of your ticket if you are able. This will help us so much in these difficult financial times and we can claim gift aid on your ticket price if you donate to The Lightbox.

I hope everyone reading this stays well, safe and secure and we look forward to seeing you again quite soon!

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 30 March 2020

Hello again, everyone.

Firstly, I wanted to say a very big thank you to all those people who have shown their real support for The Lightbox in these difficult times. Many of you have renewed your membership for three years rather than one – have renewed early or simply given a donation. This is absolutely vital support at a time when we have lost all our income from our visitors. You have also been great at supporting Seasons Café through our "have a virtual coffee" campaign. Please keep this support coming – we need you now more than ever.

In return, we are delivering, via our blog, our e-newsletters and on social media, lots of ideas to keep you - and especially your children - busy at home. Our message about art, health and wellbeing seems even more appropriate now we are all having to deal with the anxieties of these troubling times, and when a new problem seems to present itself every day. Please make use of our resources and keep an eye on the blog for activities and information.

We are all working at home so can respond to you via email if you have suggestions or just want to keep in touch. All our staff are working their normal hours and we have pledged to look after them all – as I am sure you would expect. We are in touch with all our volunteers, checking up that they are safe and well and looking after those for whom The Lightbox is a much-needed source of friendship and human contact.

We are trying hard to look to the future and the day when we can re-open. As I mentioned in my previous comments, we have now confirmed that our Raphael exhibition can go ahead in September – fingers crossed for re-opening by then – and our Literary Festival will take place in October. We promise to bring you even more exciting things this Autumn, which makes it so important to try and plug our financial gap as much as possible, now.

I hope everyone reading this stays home, stays safe and secure, and we look forward to seeing you again at The Lightbox in the summer sunshine.

My very best wishes,

Marilyn


Monday 23 March 2020

Hello everyone. This is the first of a regular blog that I will be writing to keep you up to date with everything we are doing to keep The Lightbox in touch with you over the next difficult months.

As you know, with a very real sense of sadness, we closed the building on Wednesday 18 March at 5.00pm along with many arts and heritage organisations. To have to do this in the middle of such a successful exhibition as David Hockney: Ways of Working was a huge blow for us, as so much work had gone into that wonderful show and so many people were still intending to visit.

We are creating as much online content as we can so keep an eye on the website and particularly, look at the opportunities to help us financially at this time, as well as our catering partners Tipsy Pigs.

It seems hard to look ahead when we are all so uncertain of the future, but we are trying to keep positive and plan, including rescheduling what we can and also trying to rescue our much-anticipated Raphael exhibition, which was originally due to open in May.

Last week was an extraordinary week for us all as we raced against time to do as much as we could before closure hit. We are now all working from home – not the same for any of us, being in a business where human contact is so vital. But we are trying very hard to adapt and be creative at a time when that is so needed.

Please keep supporting us – and in return we will keep supporting you with as many resources and as much inspiration as possible. Keep safe and well.

My very best wishes,

Marilyn