SAVE the OTTER GALLERY at the University of Chichester

Sign the petition here

1 Otter Gallery 2018-06 DSC_8284eds

The University of Chichester plans to close the Otter Gallery on October 7, 2018.It is Chichester’s only free public art gallery with a permanent collection.


Professor Jim Lynch
Board of Governors
University of Chichester
College Lane,
Chichester PO19 6PE                                                                                           June 25, 2018


Dear Professor Lynch,

Open letter concerning the planned closure of the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester

This week, the Otter Gallery will open its final exhibition: ‘Conflicting Views: Pacifist Artists’. Following a decision by the Vice Chancellor’s Group, the end of this exhibition on October 7th will also mark the end the university’s in-house art gallery.

I am writing as the initiator of a petition to prevent the planned closure of the Otter Gallery.
The petition has attracted more than 2000 signatures in less than a month, and this at a time when most students have already left the university for the summer break.

Please find attached some of the over 100 comments that were left on the petition website. I urge you to read them.

At no point since the closure of the Otter Gallery was announced, has it been explained whether other options for the location of a careers centre were considered, or whether efforts were made to find an alternative location for the university’s art gallery. It remains unclear why the Vice Chancellor’s Group feels it necessary to close a successful, popular, and free public gallery with a permanent art collection – a facility that would be a credit to any university.

If the Board of Governors is satisfied that all other options have been explored and that this decision has been taken with all due care, it would surely be in the interest of good relations with students, staff and the local community of which the university is a part, to explain and publish those reasons.

I trust you will understand the concerns of students past and present, local people and members of the wider arts community, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Anne-Katrin Purkiss.


From: Jim Lynch <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2018 9:31:06 AM
Subject: RE: Open Letter – Planned closure of the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester

Dear Ms Purkiss

Thank you for your letter of 25th June 2018 regarding plans for the University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery, and information about your petition and associated online comments. I have read and noted them.

The University Vice-Chancellor’s Group made a decision on the future of the Otter Gallery space, and the works of art in the range of collections, based on lengthy consideration. Governors have been kept fully informed of the University management’s decision, and there is ongoing discussion about the preservation and exhibition of artworks through the University’s Otter Gallery, Archives and Collections Committee.

I appreciate your interest in good relations, and I suggest that you write directly to Professor Catherine Harper to express your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Prof Jim Lynch, OBE
Chair of Governors, University of Chichester


From: Anne Purkiss
Sent: 27 June 2018 09:36
To: Jim Lynch
Subject: RE: Open Letter – Planned closure of the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester

Dear Prof. Lynch,

Prof. Harper is fully informed about the petition, the comments and concerns.

With kind regards,
Anne Purkiss.



The University of Chichester plans to close the Otter Gallery on October 7, 2018,  at the end of its current exhibition ‘Conflicting Views – Pacifist  Artists’. Its history is featured in the documentary Making the Bishop Otter Art Collection.

Closing the art gallery is said to create space for the university’s other priorities. It is not explained why other space cannot be found for the gallery. As an alternative to the current Otter Gallery, the university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Catherine Harper, proposes that artworks from the collection will be ‘more widely distributed across the campuses’ and that ‘the distributed Otter Gallery will have at its heart the Executive corridor of University House.’ It is envisaged that exhibitions, events and talks will continue to take place there.
These plans are unworkable, since much of the Otter Collection’s main works of 20th century British art are too valuable to be safely shown outside a designated gallery.     The planned ‘distributed Otter Gallery’ would also lose its Arts Council England accredited status. Depriving it of the associated benefits, and making it difficult to obtain works of art on loan from external sources. Private sponsorship and future donations to the collection will likewise be affected by the loss of an accredited gallery to display work safely and to professional standards.
We need to act as a matter of urgency. If you believe that art galleries contribute to an excellent wide-ranging education for students, staff and the wider community,

SIGN THE PETITION on by clicking here  and follow updates on Twitter @SaveOtter .

Looking back twenty years: a report in the CHICHESTER OBSERVER about the opening of the Resource Centre at Sussex University that includes the Otter Gallery:

Otter Gallery, 1997-4, ed.4eds