Pippa Hale at Pannett Art Gallery


Project Info


  • Pippa Hale

Art Forms

  • Installation and Photography


  • Pannett Art Gallery
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund

Pannett Art Gallery was one of nine heritage sites selected by Arts&Heritage to take part in its Meeting Point 2016 programme. The museum took part in a series of A&H training workshops and visits, to learn how to successfully deliver a contemporary art project. The museum then developed their own Artist’s Brief, and presented this to 40 artists from across the UK at a networking event. From Expressions of Interest, three artists were shortlisted to draw up a more detailed proposal from which the museum selected Pippa Hale for the commission.

Seat was an installation for the main gallery at Pannett Art Gallery that reflected the dual purpose of the beautiful space and its role in the history and governance of Whitby.

Unusually the main gallery at Pannett Art Gallery not only hosts temporary exhibitions, but also Whitby Town Council meetings when the space is regularly transformed into a meeting space with public seating. This dual function truly reflects the interests and commitments of its founder Robert Elliott Pannett who was a keen art collector, Councillor and later Alderman of Whitby. It was he who gifted the park and made provision for an art gallery on the occasion of his death in 1920.

For the duration of the exhibition, Seat saw the main gallery arranged as a full town council meeting with the tables and chairs set out in a U-shape and rows of seats for the public. However, for this artwork all the seats were loaned by Whitby townsfolk, whose portraits and stories were displayed in frames around the walls of the main gallery. As the artist explained:

“I wanted to reflect the dual use of the building; both as a gallery space and seat of local government hosting the Whitby Town Council meetings. Seats have a practical use within the gallery but I want them to act as the artwork itself.

[…] The gifting of seats is significant because it marks a special moment in Whitby’s history when, in 1928, local people, upon hearing of the death of Pannett Art Gallery founder Robert Elliot Pannett, donated chairs to ensure the Gallery – named in his honour – could be completed.” – Pippa Hale, 2016

‘Seat’ referenced this dual purpose of the main gallery space as not only a place to sit and contemplate works of art, but also the seat of local government. The seats themselves act as representatives of Whitby townsfolk in the democratic process, whilst providing a contemporary snapshot of the people who live and work in the town.

Community participation was central to the project with over 30 residents from Whitby taking part in the resulting installation.

A&H commissioned a ‘making of film’ for Seat, capturing the artist’s process.

The Artist

Pippa Hale is an artist based in Leeds. She is particularly interested in social history and geography and her work includes large-scale installations both in heritage venues and the public realm.

Born in 1971, Coventry, Pippa studied at the University of Leeds. Previous projects include Beyond The Dustheaps at the Dickens Museum (London); Pool a temporary installation at Leeds International Pool commissioned by Leeds City Council; North and South for Southampton Art Gallery and Yarn commissioned by The Culture Company for Leeds City Council and Holbeck Urban Village.