The Paddock Project

  • What type of gallery would it be?

    A purpose designed building, with two environmentally controlled galleries which means we can secure loans of artworks from major museums and galleries. There will also be two studios which will host an inclusive and vibrant programme of events and activities for all ages and a 120 seat auditorium/cinema for film screenings, talks, conferences and performances.

  • Where would the gallery be built?

    The gallery would be built next to Paddock Garden, formerly the tennis courts of the Digby School for Girls. The land was gifted to Sherborne Arts Trust in 2011 by Dorset County Council. The site is within close proximity of the town centre and Cheap Street, and offers a superb location for a new cultural centre in the heart of the town.

  • What would the gallery look like?

    This is the architect’s view of the gallery looking from Paddock Garden. The upper floor of the building would sit low to the garden, respecting the adjoining residents and exploiting the natural gradient of the land. The frontage, sitting above a new (relocated) herbaceous border, is designed to offer the feeling of shared space between the garden and the gallery.

    This is a view of the gallery looking from Old Market car park. The west elevation of the building would offer visitors access to the ground floor and stairs/ramp leading up to Paddock Garden. The galleries and studios will be on the first floor, while the ground floor would house a restaurant and café. To the south, there would be a terraced garden that leads onto a special quiet ‘sensory garden’.

  • How many galleries would there be?

    There would be two galleries, which will satisfy the highest environmental and access specifications to enable the loan of artworks and large sculptures from major museums and galleries.


  • How would larger pieces of art be transported to the gallery?

    Unlike many galleries located in older buildings and even some modern ones, the building would be able to accommodate unusually large artworks. This is a great opportunity for the gallery but would also involve significant handling challenges for valuable and irreplaceable artworks and artefacts. Large artworks would be transported to the gallery via newly installed, specially commissioned artist-designed gates in the west wall of Paddock Garden and a widened and reinforced path leading to the full height doors in the front of the gallery.

  • What would be on the lower floor?

    The lower floor, directly accessible from street level, would offer a mixture of a relaxing café with a restaurant serving the best West Country produce. The café space would be flexible so as to accommodate corporate and other events. There would be direct access to the lower garden to the south.


  • How would the gallery be accessed?

    The building would be accessed via Paddock Garden to the north as well as from street level to the west.

  • When would the gallery open?

    We hope to apply for planning in late Summer of 2018. Assuming things proceed smoothly, the gallery would open in 2020.

  • Would the gallery be open all year round?


  • Would the gallery be free?

    The programme would feature a mix of free and ticketed exhibitions, but there would always be at least one free exhibition on display.

  • What type of art would be on display?

    The gallery would cover a wide range of artistic activity with a programme that provides something for everyone:

    • contemporary and modern art and craft from both international, national and local artists.
    • different genres: sculpture, painting, printmaking, photography, textiles, new media etc.
    • a place where visitors could discover the artistic and cultural stories of Dorset and the region
    • educational initiatives open to schools and the local community would be at the heart of the programme
    • two studios delivering a year round programme of classes, courses, workshops and activities for all ages.
    • collaborative opportunities with local businesses, not for profit organisations and other regional, national and international galleries

  • How often would the exhibitions change?

    At least four times a year so there would always be something new and exciting to see.

  • Would I be able to sketch/draw in the gallery?

    Of course: educational initiatives would lie at the heart of the gallery’s programme, offering interesting and exciting opportunities for children and the local community.

  • Would I be able to take photos?

    Often yes, but some nationally important artworks can only be seen in low light levels for conservation reasons, and some come with copyright restrictions.

    There would be lots of opportunities to share your photographs with us on social media, and through some of the projects and exhibitions.

  • Would I be able to park nearby?

    There are several car parks in the town centre, as well as a train station. However, we recognise that parking can sometimes be difficult in Sherborne and have been working with Arup, a highly respected consultancy, as well as Sherborne Town Council and West Dorset District Council, to devise a detailed transport plan.

  • Would the gallery be fully accessible?

    Yes. The construction of this world-class art gallery would conform to all modern accessibility standards to ensure everyone is able to use the building and take part in the activities there.

  • Would there be a shop?

    Yes. The shop and café areas would sell inspiring products from national and local artists and makers across a range of prices as well as art books, stationary and children’s toys and books.

  • Would you have baby changing facilities?

    Of course, we welcome all ages.

  • How can I get involved in The Paddock Project?

    The first thing to do is sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media. We want to keep everyone up to date with all our news.

  • How would the gallery be funded?

    SAT has secured the backing of a local charitable foundation which is willing to fund the design and construction costs of the multi-million pound building. The running costs would be funded by the gallery’s restaurant, café, shop, corporate and other events, sale of artworks and revenue from ticketed exhibitions.

Paddock Garden

  • What changes are proposed to Paddock Garden?

    The proposed changes would be:

    • to remove the stone wall to the south of Paddock Garden, so that Paddock Garden and the gallery can be treated as one single, harmonious and attractive public space.
    • to relocate an existing herbaceous border at the south end of Paddock Garden and to create a 4m wide access path in front of the gallery building. The path would be set slightly higher than the existing lawn and would be one of the main access ways to the gallery.
    • to install artist-designed gates in the middle of the west wall, to be linked to a widened and reinforced path down the west side of the Garden for the delivery of unusually large art pieces to the front entrance of the gallery.

    Here is a sketch showing the proposed access arrangements.

  • Why would it be necessary to remove the wall at the bottom of Paddock Garden?

    Doing so would allow Paddock Garden and the gallery building to be treated as one open public space. It would also permit the new gallery building to be located to the northern edge of the SAT site, which would be required to protect the roots of the magnificent Horse Chestnut tree on the southern boundary of the site.

  • Why would it be necessary to create a new gate in the west wall and vehicle access down that side of the garden?

    To allow the safe movement of large and environmentally sensitive artworks into the gallery. These artworks often require different types of specialist handling. Large artworks require specialist lifting gear in order to move them from the vehicle into the gallery. Environmentally sensitive larger artworks, particularly watercolours and works on paper, are delivered in environmentally controlled air-ride vehicles. When moved from the vehicle into the building they need protection from the elements and a smooth and quick transit.

    We have considered other access options with a leading transport firm for large artworks and have concluded this would be the only option likely to be acceptable to major lenders of these artworks.

  • When would I be able to see the detailed plans for the gallery?

    Assuming there is an agreement with the Town Council regarding Paddock Garden, detailed plans would be prepared and submitted to West Dorset District Council as part of our planning application. We held our own public consultation events in July and August where we displayed all the plans and invited comments.

  • Why would the Tourist Information Centre have to move from the centre of town to the gallery?

    Sherborne Tourist Information Centre, which is currently operated by West Dorset District Council, faces an uncertain future and potential closure due to central government funding cuts. The importance of the TIC and the visitor economy to Sherborne is widely recognised, and so The Paddock Project is working with Sherborne Town Council and West Dorset District Council to provide a new permanent home for the TIC within our exciting visitor destination.

  • Who would look after Paddock Garden?

    Subject to the agreement of Sherborne Town Council, the gallery would assume responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the garden. It would also be responsible for security in the garden.

  • Would I still be able to go into Paddock Garden without visiting the gallery?

    Of course. Paddock Garden would remain as a public space, open to everyone. Access to a small part of the garden would be restricted during the construction period.