THE custodians of an art gallery, featuring works ranging from David Hockney paintings to 17th Century Dutch masterpieces, are hoping to establish it as among the country's finest following an £8m revamp.

York Art Gallery will reopen on Yorkshire Day - Saturday, August 1 - by launching a Centre of Ceramic Art, major exhibition areas to increase the venue’s display space by 60 per cent and unveiling a ceramic titled Melanie, by Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry, highlighting changing views about feminine beauty.

Among the highlights of the relaunch will be three 1952 oil paintings of York by LS Lowry - Clifford's Tower, Wilson's Terrace and A View of York - being shown together in public for the first time.

Curatorial assistant Lorna Frost said: "We are delighted that the private collectors have given us permission to show the other two works and the sketch of the tower to mark the reopening of the gallery.

"They remain true to Lowry's iconic style and will be a highlight for visitors coming to see the newly-reopened gallery this summer."

The reopening will also feature a 17-metre long wall of pots displayed by colour to create a rainbow effect.

A gallery spokesman said the precarious nature of the stacked pots would allude to the belief that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master craftsman, while a second installation, Halo by artist Susie MacMurray, would feature thousands of pure gold wire threads creating the illusion of shimmering movement.

The trust's two-year redevelopment of the Victorian listed building follows architects condemning one of its former areas as having an "oppressive feel".

Work has seen the creation of galleries on the first floor and in the original Victorian roof space, open to the public for the first time, which will house more than 5,000 examples of British studio ceramics, while details, such as ornate Victorian columns have been renovated.

The gallery will also include three areas capable of hosting major national and international exhibitions.

The exterior of the first floor extension of the building has been decorated with more than 300 double hexagon shaped ceramic tiles inspired by the unique paving on York’s streets, while an artists’ garden is set to open to the public for the first time later this year.

The reopening follows the trust announcing it would introduce a £7.50 entry charge at the gallery, following grant cuts - a move condemned as "very disappointing" by some York politicians.

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