It will create a new exhibition space, office, art store, kitchen and accessible entrance and facilities. Fundraising of £573,000 paid for the works which has enabled the gallery to extend its opening hours to the public.
The Saffron Walden gallery, which was founded in 1987, will reopen on May 8 with two exhibitions.
Sworders, based close by in Stansted Mountfitchet, is sponsoring a show which has been created to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the gallery’s collection over its 37 years.
Containing more than 3000 items, it celebrates the particular strength of the Great Bardfield artists Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, William Rothenstein and John Aldridge, and extends to Keith Vaughan and Michael Ayrton among others.
Much of the collection has been acquired by the support of the artists and their families and estates and art trust funds.
The other exhibition, sponsored by Shirley Parish in memory of Dorothy Staples and supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, focuses on the avant-garde female artist Isabel Rawsthorne (1912-92).
Rawsthorne changed her surname with each of her three marriages and became known as a muse of 20th century artists including Jacob Epstein, Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon rather than as an artist in her own right.
The show includes 13 costume designs for the 1953 Royal Opera House production of Strauss’s opera Elektra, Giacometti’s sculpture of Rawsthorne (Head of Isabel II and loaned by the Sainsbury Centre) and two Rawsthorne still-lifes (loaned by the Sainsbury Centre and restored courtesy of the Garfield Weston grant).
The exhibition will also feature a selection of Rawsthorne’s portraits and still-lifes given to the Fry Art gallery by the artist’s family.
NB: The Weston Loan Programme was created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Art Fund to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.