ART enthusiasts will be greeted by an eight-metre tall sculpture called the Essex Man when a gallery reopens to the public.

Firstsite, in Colchester, is officially reopening to visitors on May 17 with sculptor Michael Landy heading a packed exhibition programme.

Among the celebrations there is an additional buzz around the gallery as the building is marking its tenth anniversary this year.

Under the leadership of its director Sally Shaw, the gallery has also become a provider of holiday activities for families.

Firstsite also has a cinema and houses the Berryfield Mosaic, a Roman artefact discovered in 1923 that dates back to AD 200.

When it reopens, visitors will be greeted in the welcome area by the Essex Man sculpture which is part of Mr Landy’s Welcome to Essex exhibition.

New on display is Art for Life, a poignant show of artworks made during the pandemic by contemporary artists working with NHS workers.

Mrs Shaw said: “Our reopening programme has been led by feedback from our audience survey, where people said they would would like Firstsite to support the community by providing activities and events to encourage positivity and bring people together to have fun - such as The Great Big Art Exhibition.”

The Great Big Art Exhibition has been a creative sensation with than 5,000 contributions sent in during lockdown which can be seen on digital wall in the gallery.

Mrs Shaw added: “I’m also delighted that Michael Landy has chosen Firstsite to showcase his incredible body of new work.

“From the Romans, to the Mayflower and holidaymakers on board ferries, Essex has been a gateway into the UK for thousands of years, making it a vibrant and culturally rich part of the country.

“Michael’s exhibition brings this complex history and reputation into focus with visual delicacy.


“Welcome to Essex is a timely and fascinating exhibition providing much to consider – not only about Essex but about the UK at large, at a time when yet again, culture will play a significant part in re-articulating our values as a community, especially in what we hope will become the post-coronavirus period.”

In September Firstsite will be presenting the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition, which will be an opportunity to see the work of emerging artists.

Its Holiday Fun programme is also set to return this summer giving children and families free meals and activities.

Safety measures will still be in place and the café has also been given a makeover.

Visit for details.