20-21 Visual Arts Centre is housed in St John’s Church a splendid example of Victorian Gothic which was the parish church for Scunthorpe before becoming redundant and left to moulder. The furnishings have been removed and it has been splendidly restored as a large exhibition area. A single storey extension has been added which gives additional exhibition space and also houses offices, cafe, shop and the best toilets in Scunthorpe (and they are free).
There is a changing and varied exhibition programme from mechanical models made by ‘renowned’ regional artists, models made from materials or junk, to displays of paintings by local artists.
When we visited the theme was ‘wheels’. This included a giant pink pig with small wings built over a bicycle (pigs can fly?), a metal dog on a bicycle pushing a small peepshow with performing dogs. There was a ‘boat’ with two metal figures. These were linked to an exercise bike. If you pedaled hard, the figures moved. Then there was a child’s cast off trike which had grass growing on its seat… I’ll put my hands up now and admit that I find this sort of modern art pretentious, so it wasn’t to my taste. However looking at comments in the visitors book, exhibitions like this are popular and draw people from the surrounding area.
There is always a table with activities for children and a member of staff available to help with colouring, cutting and gluing. Adult craft workshops are also run. According to the website, it is possible for groups to apply to ring the church bells.
There is an interesting small shop selling an excellent range of local handicrafts, including hand made jewellery and there is good selection of cards.
The cafe is well patronised and a popular meeting place for the older generation, serving a selection of good priced snacks and cakes. There is a small children’s corner with a selection of books, paper and crayons.
We enjoy popping in to look at the exhibitions – we might not rate them, but there is always something to talk about. Grandson also enjoys visits as there is space to run and he enjoys the activity table. It is also all FREE.
It is open Tuesdays – Saturdays and is fully wheelchair friendly. Staff are friendly and helpful.
The informative website can be found here