Underground Movement will bring art to a former Cold War nuclear bunker

A former Cold War nuclear bunker in East Yorkshire will reopen its door to the public for the third year running in the Spring…boasting an all-new art gallery 50-feet underground.

In what must be one of the world’s most unusual art galleries, this former top-secret bunker – once used as an emergency headquarters for RAF Command – lies hidden beneath what looks like an ordinary bungalow.

Underground Movement is the brainchild of the owner of the ‘Visit the Bunker’ attraction, John Swift, who is working hand-in-hand with the Chair of East Riding Artists Larry Malkin in order to hold a series of art exhibitions in 2018.

The gallery space itself is around 17.5 metres long and 27 metres wide.  When it was stripped of its analogue computers, the MoD also took-up the floor – so the space is now accessed by suspended walkways.  The cork-lined walls have been painted black to create a stunning backdrop for the art.

Larry Malkin has created a programme for the year, which will include an exhibition of works by nationally known artists including miner-turned-artist Harry Malkin; photographer Eric Boothroyd; loose impressionistic artist Phil Hargeaves; BAFTA-winning documentary maker, photographer and film director Paul Berriff; and Martin Waters, the talented installation artist.

The new gallery space will open on March 17 with an exhibition of new works entitled The Flora of War by Hull documentary photographer Lee Karen Stow, that will remain on show through to the start of May.

A second redundant space known as the ‘Upper Room’ will feature displays and exhibitions from prominent local artists and groups.

RAF Holmpton itself is a Cold War era nuclear bunker that was built in the 1950s as an early warning radar station as part of the ROTOR Radar Defence Programme.  The site was refurbished in the 80s to form a new Emergency Headquarters for RAF Support Command.  In 1991 the Cold War ended and the site was converted into an experimental HQ for the new UK Air CCIS System

Located just south of the village of Holmpton, in East Yorkshire, RAF Holmpton remained a part the Defence Estate up to 8 December 2014 when it was sold into private ownership after 62 years of military service – and now continues as an exhibition of its 60 years of service with the Royal Air Force.

Today, a simple bungalow hides the entrance to the former underground nuclear bunker.  Descend the stairs and venture along the 120-metres tunnel, pass through the blast doors, to find yourself immersed in the once secret world of cold war defence.

Currently attracting around 10,000 visitors a year, admission prices to Visit the Bunker are £8 for adults, £6 for under 16s, £25 for a family ticket, and £7 concessions.  The attraction is open between March and September.  Further details can be found at http://www.visitthebunker.com.

Tourist information about the area is available at http://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/.

IMAGE: White lotus petals, Vietnam. From ‘The Flora of War’ © Lee Karen Stow