Visit to Mima


Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

On Thursday I visited Mima – it was a trip planned and organised by Ryedale Artworks.  We all gathered and travelled by mini-bus to Middlesbrough.  It was my first visit to Mima, and I have to say that on arrival I was a little underwhelmed – though we did seem to arrive at the back of the building and all I initially saw was a vast white wall and no obvious way in.

Once inside it felt very much more like a gallery and its link with the Tate evident by the shop layout and styling.

Mima – or to use its full title – Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – was designed by Erick van Egeraat Architects and opened in January 2007.  It houses Middlesbrough’s modern art collection and consists of five gallery spaces, project spaces, cafe and shop.  I’ve learned since that there is a great roof terrace giving views over Middlesbrough, which I seem to have missed.

The white wall that initially met us, is in fact cladding of imported Turkish Limestone and inside the stone floors and stairs are of Italian slate.  The great height of the entrance area is impressive, with a whole wall given to glass – but more impressive are the great stone columns supporting it all.  This imposing row of stone pillars in the atrium were apparently imported from France.  I feel thoroughly disappointed that we can’t boast all this stone as locally sourced and crafted.

Painting of a sunset by William Tillyer

Sunset by William Tillyer

However, we didn’t visit to look at stone, but to see the exhibition Against Nature by William Tillyer.  Ryedale Artworks had arranged a special tour of the galleries and work by William himself, and it was enlightening to learn about his artistic career, thought development and practice.  The title of the exhibition became clear as he described his fascination with structure, architecture, geometry and grids, countered by landscape, nature and organic gestural shape.  In his words ‘the collision between landscape and urban edges’.    The exhibition spans his career, pieces from college days through to current work and I feel quite privileged to have heard this story through his own gentle but impactful words.

Painting of Pear by William Tillyer

Pear and Cloud by William Tillyer

I liked the painting of the Pear and Cloud – William explained his love of watching clouds, which feature in many of his works – one being a cabinet of neatly laid out white pebbles, which represented clouds.

William Tillyer

William Tillyer signing catalogues for us

Thankyou William Tillyer ….   and Mima, and of course Ryedale Artworks for organising this treat.



  1. Comment by Kim:

    Loved reading this Jennifer, I’ll pass the link on to him. Is it ok if I share it on his Facebook Page?

    • Reply by Jennifer:

      Thankyou so much for your comments Kim – I’d be pleased for you to share on FB if you would like. Please pass on too just how much appreciated the talk and tour was – memorable and inspiring!

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