Cooper Gallery reopens with the launch of a ‘sense’ational new exhibition

The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley’s well-loved art space, will reopen on Saturday, 15 August with a spectacular new exhibition based around the senses.

Allegories of the Senses is a collaborative exhibition including artwork from the Arts Council Collection and is part of the Arts Council Collection Select Scheme. The works have been chosen along with pieces from the Cooper Gallery and Cannon Hall Museums outstanding collection as they replicate or stimulate the five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing.

Included in the display are rarely seen works by local artists, Malcolm Whittaker and John Kenneth Long which sit alongside masterpieces by Vanessa Bell, Martin Parr, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Marc Quinn. A magnificent three-metre-high textile piece by Caroline Achaintre, on loan from the Arts Council Collection, creates a breath-taking showstopper.

Accessibility and inclusion was an important focus for the exhibition and the display has been carefully co curated by Action for Autism and Asperger’s Barnsley (AfAAB). Through a series of workshops, which included sessions around art, painting, textiles and other sensory experiences, the group studied and debated potential artworks before making their final selection. Their invaluable feedback offered a unique perspective on how the exhibition was shaped and displayed and has inspired some members of the group to pursue further interests based on the sessions.

LEGO® have kindly supported the exhibition by supplying a brand-new concept - LEGO® Braille Bricks for use within the gallery interpretation to help aid visitors who are visually impaired. Each brick in the LEGO® Braille Bricks toolkit retains its iconic form, but unlike a regular LEGO® brick the studs are arranged to correspond to numbers and letters in the Braille alphabet. Each brick shows the printed version of the symbol or letter, allowing sighted and blind children to play and learn together.

Touch and feel are a huge part of the exhibition and to allow visitors to enjoy a COVID-19-  sensory experience, creative and inspiring activity packs will be available to take home to enjoy in the safety of their own home. They will include everything they need to do interesting and fun tasks related to the theme of senses.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said:

The Cooper Gallery is delighted to be opening its doors once again so visitors can enjoy its outstanding collections and take time to relax and reflect in their spaces.  What a way to open with such a fantastic exhibition which has been years in the making.  Working collaboratively with partners Arts Council Collection and Action for Autism and Asperger’s Barnsley will be a real delight for the senses which is the theme of all the artwork included.  The team at Cooper Gallery have worked hard to make sure it is not only an enjoyable experience but also a safe one for those visiting. They look forward to welcoming visitors back old and new for another exciting exhibition.

To find out more the Arts Council Collection visit and  LEGO® Braille Bricks visit