The new Hauser & Wirth Gallery on Illa del Rei, or King’s Island will finally open its doors on July 17 with an exhibition of work by Mark Bradford.
In ancient times, the island was called Illa dels Conills or Rabbit Island, but was renamed King’s Island in 1287 after Alfonso III of Aragon conquered the Island and turfed out Abû Umar and his followers.
In the 18th Century, the British nicknamed it Bloody Island and built a military hospital on the island. It had 40 wards, several rooms for doctors and hospital staff and other areas for laundry, kitchens etc, but was abandoned in the mid-1960’s when a brand new military hospital was built in Mahon. Illa del Rei also contains the archaeological remains of a 6th-century basilica.
Extensive work has now been carried out on a series of buildings in the historic complex and the Contemporary Art Centre, which occupies the Langara building, sprawls over 1,500 square metres, has a sculpture garden containing works by Louise Bourgois and Eduardo Chillida, a shop and a restaurant.
The project is by architect Luis Laplace and pays special attention to environmental sustainability, with rainwater collection protocols and a system to reuse water for soil irrigation.
"Our dream is to place contemporary art like Mark Bradford's in this very special context, said Gallery Director, Manuela Wirth. “King's Island is an extraordinary wild, natural place with unique light and scenery and a fascinating history.”
“The new centre will have a very positive impact on the economy and will be an example of the sustainable model,” added Mahon Mayor, Héctor Pons. "I am proud to welcome a project that preserves historic buildings and respectfully connects with this very special place."
The opening of the new Contemporary Art Centre is one of the most anticipated events of the year.