101 Things to do in Bournemouth – GIANT Gallery

Just an eight minute walk from the sea and sand for which Bournemouth is famous is GIANT Gallery. As the name suggests, it is a giant art gallery. In fact, according to the GIANT website, it is the “UK’s largest artist-run gallery space outside London.”

Taking up the entire second floor of the Bobby’s Department Store is GIANT, the brainchild of Bournemouth artist Stuart Semple. Semple decided to move from London back to his home town and set up GIANT because he felt the town was a ‘cultural desert’.

Giant Gallery
Giant

Getting There

Walk from the seafront through the Lower Gardens and you will find Bobby’s Department Store. Make your way to the second floor (it might take a while – I usually get seriously waylaid in the makers’ market on the first floor) and you will find GIANT.

Bobby's Department Store
Bobby’s Department Store

Opening Times

Giant is open daily from 11 am until 5.30 pm (4 pm on Sundays).

Price

Entry is free. If you want to part with some cash, it has an excellent gift shop.

Giant Gift Shop
Giant Gift Shop

Current Exhibitions

There are normally two exhibitions, a larger one taking up the body of the gallery and a smaller one in an area towards the rear. Currently, the gallery is closed until July for maintenance. In the meantime, events and off-site installations will take place in central Bournemouth.

Former Exhibitions

BODY POETICS (18 February – 6 May 2023)

Body Poetics is; “a group exhibition pairing nine feminist artists working at the advent of feminist theory in the 1970s and 80s, with a contemporary artist from a younger generation”. Apparently it’s “a feminist provocation across time and space that explores the outer limit of what a body can be”. And I’m quoting, because I don’t really get it. Next…

Daniel Lismore Studio Visit (13 January – 30th April 2023)

Daniel Lismore considers himself a ‘living sculpture’. This exhibition includes some of his work, a film of him talking about his work and artefacts from his life in a ‘Lismorian Boudoir’. I was fascinated by this opportunity not to see an artist’s work but almost to peer inside the workings of his mind.

Michael Simpson Paintings (11 November 2022 – 29 January 2023)

Dorset born Simpson has quite a connection with this place. Not only did he study at Bournemouth College of Art, but his mother was a shop assistant in Bobby’s in the 1930s. His work depicts a ladder, platform or steps leading to a leper squint (an aperture in a medieval church which allowed lepers to view sermons without entering the church).

Airship Orchestra (8 September – 9 October 2022)

Not actually in the gallery, but in The Triangle in the centre of Bournemouth, this installation formed part of the 2022 Arts by the Sea Festival. The large interactive inflatables, complete with sound and lights, were extremely popular, especially with children.

Forever: Changed (16 July – 16 October 2022)

FOREVER CHANGED is the title from a Lou Reed and John Cale song about Andy Warhol’s death. The song implies that after Warhol our world has been irreversibly changed and the exhibition explores this idea.

The Healing Collective (19 June – 4 September 2022)

Billed as “13 contemporary artists, performers, healer and guides coming together to create an exhibition of art, space, movement, sound, and touch”, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was been promised that I would be “welcomed by non-human friends, feel yourself gently beckoned into a sanctuary for the soul, soothed by sounds, sights and smells.” Intriguing…

The entrance to the exhibition was decked out like a waiting room, then you go inside and there were worms. I presume these were my non human friends. Isn’t it rude to eat your friends?

There was a fun installation consisting of trays full of ceramic pieces you were invited to rearrange the pieces on the tray and send a photo of your creation to the artist. Other than that, The Healing Collective was not up my alley. So I made do with purloining some stickers from a ceramic head that vomited stickers, gave a chalice of menstrual blood a wide berth and went on my way. I’m just glad I didn’t bring the old man to wander around the gallery loudly exclaiming; ‘Call that art?’

Life’s a Beach (2 April – 26 June 2022)

Life’s a Beach presented the work of photographer Martin Parr. Parr’s work focuses on modern British life, and here his subject was the British seaside holidaymaker. He has been taking photographs of Brits at the seaside since the 70s, chronicling our love affair with a day at the beach.

My favourites were the lady below, who looks particularly happy to be getting her dose of Vitamin Sea. And the man who is determined to read his paper in peace despite the chaos going on around him. I’ve read Martin Parr’s analysis of his work and it’s deep and philosophical, so I’m sure that’s not how he’d put it. But that’s the beauty of art – we can all interpret it in our own way.

Crossing the Line ( – 29 May 2022)

Crossing the Line questioned where Street Art now belongs – urban alleys or white walled art galleries? It utilised examples from famous street artists such as Banksy and D*Face to discuss the monetising of public art.

I enjoyed this exhibition as street art is a passion of mine, but some of the examples were rather small. When the original is a huge, in-your-face statement, does a replica the size of a postcard have the same impact? But maybe that’s kind of the point…

Giant for Children

The gallery holds regular art workshops for children.

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