The Gibraltar Exhibitions of Modern Art – G.E.M.A., located at Montagu Bastion, Line Wall road, was officially inaugurated on Tuesday 10th November by the Minister for Culture, the Hon Steven Linares.
This new gallery opened with exhibition rooms dedicated to previous winners of the three main art competitions held annually in Gibraltar; The International Art Exhibition, The Young Art Competition and The Spring Visual Arts Competition. The public will be able to enjoy over 40 artworks encompassing mostly paintings, but also sculptures, video, installation and photography.
The gallery is housed within the historical Montagu Bastion, which was recently refurbished, after having been used as a store for many years. Thus now serving the dual purpose of showcasing local art talent as well as the opening up of a new site of heritage value, for locals and tourists alike.
The gallery is now open to the public Monday to Friday 11am – 3pm. Entrance is free.
Montagu Bastion - a brief history
It is thought the Bastion was probably originally built by the Moors. Under the British it was rebuilt and enlarged into a large five-sided bastion with three faces covering the Mole and the Waterport, and two flanks.
In 1705, the year after the capture of Gibraltar, it was named after Ralph Montagu (1638?-1709), Marquis of Monthermer, made First Duke of Montagu. It was sited at the end of the Old Mole and was covered by the Montagu Counterguard. William Green, the chief engineer, wanted to place a 10-inch mortar in a bonnette in front of Montagu Battery. The battery was built between 1730 and 1738 and its first mounted guns in 1735.
In 1744 it mounted nine iron 18-pdrs. According to Colonel Drinkwater-well known for the journal which he kept during the Great Siege of Gibraltar - in 1782 a cavalier or a raised mount was built, using ships’ timbers and following the pentagonal shape of the bastion beneath. The cavalier was opened at the gorge which faced east towards the town. Its guns augmented those on the bastion below and fired over the Old Mole and out into the Bay in front of the Inundation, a possible enemy landing place.
General Jones in his report of 1841 was extremely critical of Montagu Bastion. He recommended that measures should be taken to heighten the main line of the scarp, reduce the dangerously wide openings of the embrasures and to even move the heavier guns from the main line down to the counterguard in front so that their lines of fire would not be obstructed by any advanced works.
Montagu Bastion, which had become the most powerful bastioned fortification on Gibraltar, by 1859 had twenty-nine guns. As a result of the rearmament after the recommendations of Colonel W.F.D. Jervois in 1868, three 10-inch 18-ton RML guns in covered iron-shielded emplacements were constructed on the left face of the bastion by 1880. Twelve years later the guns were obsolete and were finally removed in 1907. Together with the RMLs the bastion mounted two 32-pdrs. on the left flank and another two 32-pdrs. of 42 cwt in the orillon. There is an undated drawing for an emplacement for two 12-pdr. QF guns (PRO WO 78/3874), which were possibly mounted in 1897 on the cavalier against motor torpedo boats.
During the 20th century Montagu Bastion served as an anti-aircraft position. In 1928 four 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were intended and installed in 1931. This was a position for two 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns during the Second World War.