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The Spanish Gallery welcomes a special guest as opening date approaches
The Spanish Gallery welcomes a special guest as opening date approaches

The Spanish Gallery welcomes a special guest as opening date approaches

The Auckland Project have confirmed the much-anticipated opening of The Spanish Gallery.

The Gallery, which is situated in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place, will open to the public on October 15th, with tickets set to go on sale in early October.


As the finishing touches were being put to what will be the UK’s only gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain, The Auckland Project’s founder, Jonathan Ruffer recently welcomed celebrated broadcaster and former politician, Michael Portillo for an exclusive preview tour, which was all caught on film.


North-East film maker, Alan Fentiman has been commissioned to make a 20-minute film to mark the opening of The Spanish Gallery.


He was invited to accompany Jonathan and Michael around all four floors of the latest destination in The Auckland Project’s plan to revitalise the market town of Bishop Auckland through art, faith and heritage.


The Spanish Gallery focuses on art of the Spanish Golden Age during the 16th and 17th centuries, conceived to contextualise a series of paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán which has hung in Auckland Castle for over 250 years.


Michael Portillo has often delved into his Spanish heritage – his father was Spanish - during his TV career, and said he was excited at the prospect of The Spanish Gallery opening in the North East.


Speaking after a busy day of filming, Michael said: “It was a great pleasure and privilege to visit The Auckland Project.


“I am very interested in the Spanish paintings by Zurbarán in the castle, and excited by the Spanish Gallery that will open in Market Square in October.


“Its design and contents vastly exceeded my high expectations.  I’ll be a frequent visitor.”


Jonathan Ruffer, who founded The Auckland Project in 2012, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to welcome Michael to The Spanish Gallery and Auckland Castle and, given his incredibly busy filming schedule, we were very grateful he found time to feature so prominently in our film.


“It was wonderful to see his reaction to paintings and features throughout the Gallery and we look forward to welcoming him back many times.”


Film maker, Alan Fentiman, added: “It was a pleasure to capture one of the first reactions to The Spanish Gallery and a real honour to be the first to film inside such an exciting addition to the North East’s cultural landscape.


“The day of filming was a very busy one, but it couldn’t have gone better, and it was great to work with Michael who was fantastic, and really brought out a lot of the story behind the Gallery and the artworks in an engaging and entertaining way.”


The Spanish Gallery is one of seven sites, developed and managed by The Auckland Project which all draw on the rich history of the region. They are Auckland Castle, the Deer Park, the Mining Art Gallery, the Walled Garden, the Auckland Tower Visitor Centre and the forthcoming Faith Museum.


For more information and to book tickets to The Auckland Project’s attractions, visit For updates on the opening of The Spanish Gallery and ticket sales, follow the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Published: 08, October, 2021

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