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Oriel Wrecsam's proposed redevelopment. Image Copyright Ash Sakula Oriel Wrecsam's proposed redevelopment feasibility study. Image: Copyright Ash Sakula

As one of the keystones of the arts in North East Wales gets a revamp, Oriel Wrecsam is going on a little local roadtrip taking over public spaces in Wrexham town centre. Francesca Donovan spills the news.

Oriel Wrecsam is undergoing some big changes. As the old library gallery space begins to shed its former skin to make way for rejuvenation, the art which it hosts is emerging into the great wide open.

Thanks to generous funding and support from Wrexham County Borough Council, the Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government, Oriel Wrecsam is in the process of a facelift and strategy overhaul. The new development will be a spectacle. But more importantly it will boost the already thriving Wrexham arts scene, as well as benefit members of the local community and their engagement not only with art, but also with one another.

Oriel Wrecsam is to be transformed into a visual arts hub for North Wales, the feasibility study for which was done by architects Ash Sakula. With studio provisions for artists and creative industries, learning areas, artists gardens, a curated cinema programme, a flexible performance space and the obligatory caf and bar, this innovative centre promises to be sparkling with opportunity and creative process.

The transitional period in the lead up to Oriel Wrecsam s reopening will not just be a gaping space of nothingness in the art calendar, however. As James Harper of Oriel Wrecsam told CCQ, this is not a time for rest and recuperation. There will be no downtime for this newly nomadic bunch of Wrecsam art enthusiasts. Instead they are embracing the freedom - gifted to them by their lack of institutional boundary - and are spilling out into the streets, parading art through the parks and shopping centres and public spaces of Wrexham town.

So Oriel Wrecsam has temporarily set up shop literally in Chester Street. Their new offsite home, Siop/Shop, began life harmoniously as it opened its doors to the musical deluge of the Focus Wales music events in April. Since then, the space has been providing a platform to the Maker in Focus programmes, project space commissions, regular exhibitions and workshops. With a homely air and the old familiar welcome mat, Siop/Shop is a great jumping-off point for some exciting projects.

The most notable of the offsite programme is the temporary exhibition space in Wrexham town centre, PERICLO project space. The name is a direct derivation of the Latin word for risk. Needless to say we are waiting with anticipation for news on the modus operandi of PERICLO, and hoping it will shake up the language of exhibiting art in NE Wales. The space will perhaps provide a glimpse into the style of programming that could be on show at Wrexham s newly refurbished arts nucleus once it opens. Expect risks, exciting innovation and the trial and error that is sure to create some sparks over the course of its temporary lifecycle. PERICLO s inaugural exhibition opens in September at a currently undisclosed location. We will keep you posted.

In the meantime, Siop/Shop will become the beating heart of Oriel Wrecsam and as the gallery s plans for the future advance, the arts epicentre will expand into Siop/Shop s surroundings. This process of art dissemination begins with the very walls of the shop itself. On 11 July, illustrator Jonny Hannah s site-specific commission will be unveiled. He has produced a unique artwork that will envelop the whole of the exterior wall with his charming hand drawings.

Oriel Wrecsam plans for Siop/Shop and the whole town itself to become a functioning gallery space. For the next few years, until the grand unveiling of North Wales shiny new arts hub, off-site participatory practice is the name of the game. Watch out for the Art Vend project, dotted around the town centre, which brings commercial art into the palm of your hand for the meagre price of1 and allows you to hark back to childhood arcadian dreams.

Keep your eyes and ears open and receptive to art in Wrexham town. After all, the most inspiring, creative works of art are those that surprise you, sitting pretty and new, just over there, nestled in your neighbourhood nooks and crannies.