KIRKCUDBRIGHT, SCOTLAND.- Broughton House, the former home and studio of Scottish artist E A Hornel in Kirkcudbright, will reopen on Friday 1 April after a £2 million, two-year, conservation project that has transformed the building and brought new life to its collections of nationally important art and literature.
With funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Enterprise Dumfries & Galloway, European Regional Development Fund, Solway Heritage Trust and donations raised through public appeal, The National Trust for Scotland, which owns Broughton House, has undertaken an ambitious programme of works to repair the building and conserve its important collection of paintings, furnishings, books and archive material.
Using evidence gleaned from archaeological investigation and historic photographs, the Trust has restored the pink limewashed exterior that existed during Hornels ownership of the building, and has reconstructed the artists studio to reflect, as accurately as possible, its appearance when he worked there.
Robin Robertson, Broughton House Property Manager, said: The House now offers a more complete visitor experience, with better information, interpretation and for the first time, a dedicated shop. Outside, the perfect example of an artist-designed garden with its glorious views over the River Dee is a year-round favourite.
The conservation project has uncovered significant information about how Hornel lived and worked and visitors can now gain a fascinating insight into the life of one of Scotlands best-known artists and enjoy many fine examples of his work.
Broughtons extensive library, which holds the worlds fourth largest collection of Burns literature, has also been conserved to provide greater access for visitors, with a new exhibition room and a new reading room giving people space to investigate Hornel and other artists from Hornels time, including prominent members of the Glasgow Boys.
As well as a hugely significant quantity of books, manuscripts, prints, photography and ephemera (e.g. tickets and posters) to do with people and places connected with Dumfries and Galloway, the archive contains many letters written to Hornel by other artists, such as George Henry and Bessie MacNicol, who are represented by works at Broughton House.
The library was the original drawing room of Broughton House, but was taken over by Hornel as his library after the building of the Gallery in 1910. The room is lined out with bookcases and formed the nucleus of Hornels book collecting activities, which eventually invaded every room of the house. This room was previously out-of-bounds to visitors due to the instability of the first floor of the building.
The house has new education facilities, improved disabled access, and areas not previously open to the public, such as the cellars dating back to around 1734, the kitchen, pantries and service routes can now be experienced by visitors. These areas offer an insight into life below stairs at Broughton House.
The cellars are the oldest part of the property, being the only remaining element from the original tenement block that stood on the site. In the old garage, which forms part of the network of service rooms, visitors can see the hatch through which Hornel lifted large paintings from his studio, at ground level, for display in the gallery on the upper ground floor.
Before the conservation project, damp from the old cellars of Broughton was threatening to damage the collections of the house but waterproofing has now secured the building, its interiors and its artefacts.
The gallery at Broughton contains some fine examples of paintings by Hornel from the latter half of his career, including works inspired by his foreign travels to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1907 and to Burma and Japan in 1921, such as his monumental canvas Memories of Mandalay, a vibrant portrayal of traditional Burmese dancers, completed in 1923.