78 Derngate is a townhouse which was designed by the international Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It became a trust in 1998, which gave the local people who were passionate about the house the chance to fundraise and develop the property with a degree of freedom and creative thinking. Reaffirming the original owner’s passion for the new and risk taking patronage of the still largely unknown Rennie Mackintosh, they wanted to develop a contemporary presence as part of 78.
A new building was commissioned from the contemporary architects John McAslan and Partners. As part of this, I worked with the organisation to develop a contemporary art work for a double height white wall by Laura Baxter, named Leaf.
The team at 78 needed to create another reason to visit this small but exquisite town gem which had to be sustainable. We developed an extra retail strand by adding a beautiful cabinet by Simon Mount.
A well-lit upstairs room, without a use, became a gallery. This process took over a year and involved regular mentoring sessions between me and the house manager, whose enthusiasm for contemporary art became informed through discussion, trips to galleries and meeting artists and curators. Together we made successful funding applications and raised enough money for the commission to develop the property’s aspirations. The strategy that I helped to develop was tailored to 78 and has continued to be part of the property’s success.