GIANT, the popular art gallery, is set to leave Bournemouth town centre later this month, it has been announced. 

The gallery run by Bournemouth-born artist Stuart Semple will be leaving its post in Bobby’s on Saturday, January 20. 

Having welcomed more than 240,000 visitors, Stuart said the time has come to move on, partly because of money and partly because he can't find another empty building in the town centre.

He told the Echo: “It's so sad that it has to leave. The impact and the transformative effect it's had on people is more than I would ever have imagined or hoped for.  

“The gallery was a dream come true for me, to give people access to artists of this calibre in my hometown.” 

Bournemouth Echo:

Bournemouth Echo:

Stuart praised Bobby’s for being “incredibly supportive” in offering him space in the building for more than two years, rent-free. 

“Sadly, the gallery was only ever [for temporary] use, the property company that invested in the building always planned for us to leave at the end of January so that they could turn Bobby's into offices,” he said. 

“The art was only ever a meanwhile use there. I can't thank them enough for giving the people of Bournemouth access to this. It's been a huge thing.” 

Bournemouth Echo: Stuart SempleStuart Semple

Having pumped nearly £500,000 of his own money into the gallery, he said he simply cannot afford to stay in Bobby's. 

GIANT has also been given money from the Arts Council as well as BCP Council, something which Stuart said has led to a “strong relationship” between them. 

“Sadly even 'support in kind' isn't possible from the council at the moment, I'd love it if they could give me an empty building,” he said. 

“They are having to impose quite stringent austerity measures and for some reason arts and culture don't seem to be falling into their plans to save the high street. I know they like the gallery and if they could help, they would, but sadly there just isn't the money.” 

Bournemouth Echo: Bobby's in the SquareBobby's in the Square

Stuart is in discussions with another seaside town to bring GIANT to a new county where he can find a new “forever home” for the gallery. 

He added: “I love my hometown more than anything and I'd love more than anything else to have GIANT in Bournemouth.  

“I love my hometown. I'd do anything for it, but running the UK's largest free contemporary art gallery is a lot of work and not something I can take on without some support. I need a space, and I really need the council behind me too.”