Our home has a rich heritage, both in the art world and elsewhere.
The home of Open Hand Open Space studios and the 571 Oxford Road Gallery is Brock Keep, formerly part of Brock Barracks. The Keep was built in 1877 as a military gatehouse, armoury and regimental store. It is one of the few across the country that has not been demolished or converted, and is Grade II listed.
The Keep was sold to Reading Borough Council in 1980, and was first used as a homeless shelter. In the time which followed, the site was used by over 100 artists. This included Donna Lynas, Cornelia Parker, Douglas Gordon and Mike Nelson, graduates from the University of Reading, who occupied the studios after their time in the art department. A wall mural by Gordon can still be seen in the garden next to the Keep.
In the 21st Century, alongside being home to local artists, the gallery has featured a range of international artists and has attracted visitors from across the country. The space is in now the process of building on its interesting heritage to play a leading role in Reading’s cultural renaissance.