The Paddock Project

  • What type of gallery will 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 will the gallery be built?

    The gallery will 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 will the gallery look like?

    This is the architect’s view of the gallery looking from Paddock Garden. The upper floor of the building will 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 will 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 will house a restaurant and café. To the south, there will be a terraced garden that leads onto a special quiet ‘sensory garden’.

  • How many galleries will there be?

    There will 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 will larger pieces of art be transported to the gallery?

    Unlike many galleries located in older buildings and even some modern ones, the building will be able to accommodate unusually large artworks. This is a great opportunity for the gallery but will also involve significant handling challenges for valuable and irreplaceable artworks and artefacts. Large artworks will 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 will be on the lower floor?

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


  • How will the gallery be accessed?

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

  • When will the gallery open?

    We were delighted to achieve planning approval in June 2019 and ground investigation work started in October 2019. We are on track for the gallery to open in 2022.

  • Will the gallery be open all year round?


  • Will the gallery be free?

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

  • What type of art will be on display?

    The gallery will 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 can discover the artistic and cultural stories of Dorset and the region
    • educational initiatives open to schools and the local community will 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 will the exhibitions change?

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

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

    Yes. Educational initiatives will lie at the heart of the gallery’s programme, offering interesting and exciting opportunities for children and the local community.

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

  • Will 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 Dorset Council, to devise a detailed transport plan.

  • Will the gallery be fully accessible?

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

  • Will there be a shop?

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

  • Will you have baby changing facilities?

    Yes, 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 will the gallery be funded?

    Sherborne Arts Trust 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 will 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 are:

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

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

  • Why will 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.

  • Who will 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.

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

    Yes. Paddock Garden will remain a public space, open to everyone. Access to a small part of the garden will be restricted during the construction period.