Sunday, 2 October 2011
I went to have a look at the new Firstsite building today with my temporarily wheelchair bound wife. The yellow line fiends had not yet done their worst on the approach road so we were able to park for free, right outside the door. So that was a nice start. A very hot day too and the chance to get into the air conditioned building was another bonus. We had a nice welcome from the security chappie and the staff giving out exhibition guides. We loved the whole experience. We started with some breakfast outside on the terrace of the cafeteria which was priced high enough to deter the riff-raff, was nicely cooked and good to eat. We enjoyed a view of the newly grassed area leading down to the town wall with rooftops in the distance. The only bad bit of the view was the smelly old bus station that will soon, hopefully, be gone. Then in to have a look at the building proper and the exhibits, having first sat and read what was on offer. Something for everybody we thought. We were naturally underwhelmed by some of what passes for art nowadays, but very pleased with most of the exhibits, particularly the Colchester history themed items, the 1909 Colchester Pageant, the Oyster Feast, the linked picture display, etc. A nice shop and learning rooms. I had already used the auditorium so already knew that it was another excellent feature of the building. Externally, what has already been done looks very attractive, with a lovely view of St James the Great church, Hill House, etc. An interesting opaque lampost, presented as a piece of art, too. The whole experience was good and all the more so as it compliments Colchester's existing visitor attractions so well. As my mate Wendy has already said, 'it has had a difficult birth, but now is time to kiss its bottom'. I was one of the building's strongest opponents at the beginning, as I did not like the design chosen or the lack of a democratic process. However, we now have our new arts building, like it or not. It is here to stay and I, for one, will give it my full support. My main disappointment perhaps was the presentation of the Berryfield mosaic; which only goes to prove that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.