David Hockney gallery could open on Hull's Fruit Market
A DEDICATED gallery showcasing the work of world-famous East Yorkshire artist David Hockney could be opened in Hull.
City council officials are currently drawing up "concept proposals" around the idea of a new gallery in the city's former Fruit Market area.
The concept, which is to be submitted to the internationally renowned artist by the end of the year, could provide another major tourism draw to the city on a similar scale to The Deep.
An exhibition featuring Hockney's Bigger Trees Near Warter at the Ferens Art Gallery attracted more than 63,000 visitors last year.
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More than one million people visited an exhibition of Hockney's work, inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape, in London earlier this year.
Interim council chief executive Darryl Stephenson said: "I would stress we are at a very early stage on this but we are doing some work on the idea of a Hockney gallery in the Fruit Market.
"We see it as perfect fit for the area. The type of development we have seen down there over the past few years needs to be encouraged.
"Regeneration shouldn't be about knocking things down and in places like the Fruit Market, if buildings can be preserved and reused, they should be."
Mr Stephenson said the ambitious project could become the city's next major regeneration goal.
"I would love to think we could attract a large Hockney gallery to Hull," he said.
"I really do think the Fruit Market has the potential to be our very own Covent Garden."
He said concept proposals for the gallery project by council officials were due to be submitted to the artist before the end of the year.
"We are hopeful we can come up with something that will be attractive to him," said Mr Stephenson.
"One of the ideas around the gallery is to link in with the creative digital sector in Hull, which is flourishing at the moment.
"We know Hockney does a lot of his work digitally these days and it's something we are exploring as part of the gallery idea.
"Our first approach will be to pitch the concept to his people. If they like it, we will take it from there."
Mr Stephenson, who has recently overseen a review of the council's priorities, said adding new cultural attractions to the city's wider economic regeneration programme was essential to attract new jobs and investment to Hull.
"As a tourist destination, Hull is vastly underrated," he said.
"We have got The Deep and some excellent existing attractions such as the museums but I wonder whether we make the most of it.
"I don't think we make enough of the Wilberforce connection or the Siege of Hull, which triggered the Civil War.
"If this was York, there would be an re-enactment of the siege going on every day. Hull's tourism product needs refreshing."
Mr Stephenson said the public's appetite for top-class art had been underlined by the success of the Hockney exhibition at the Ferens, which has been followed by an equally popular Andy Warhol exhibition this summer.
The idea of opening a Hockey gallery in the Fruit Market coincides with a new blueprint for the area due to go before planning councillors later this week.