Revealed: Government Art Collection opens at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 17 November 2012 – 24 February 2013
16th November 2012
A fascinating exhibition, which brings together a diverse selection of nearly 200 works of art from the Government Art Collection, opens at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Gas Hall on Saturday, 17 November 2012
A fascinating exhibition, which brings together a diverse selection of nearly 200 works of art from the Government Art Collection, opens at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Gas Hall on Saturday, 17 November 2012.
Revealed will be the first time that these works, usually displayed in British Government buildings across the world, have been united under one roof and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has been chosen as the first venue outside London to display this intriguing exhibition. The exhibition will tell the remarkable story of the Government Art Collection and includes important works by such distinguished artists as Edward Lear, L.S. Lowry, Walter Sickert, Bridget Riley, Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin.
Divided into five sections, the exhibition presents different aspects of the Collection, with selections made by well-known people and groups:
- At Work - this section presents works chosen by public figures who have worked or lived alongside the art in roles ranging from British High Commissioner to South Africa to Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service. Highlights include a 16th-Century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I and. Reflection by Bridget Riley, displayed at the British Embassy in Cairo and more recently at 10 Downing Street.
- Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain - Leading British artist Cornelia Parker has selected works which reflect her personal response to the Collection. She chose to arrange the works in this section by colour, making a playful reference to the colours associated with political parties. Her colour spectrum ranges from the bright yellow of Martin Creed’s neon sculpture THINGS, to the royal blue background in Andy Warhol’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
- Travelling Light - Historian and cultural commentator Simon Schama selected works of art from the Collection that explore ideas of travel. His choice includes the famous portrait of the Romantic poet and famous traveller, Lord Byron, by Thomas Phillips and Edward Lear’s painting View of Beirut.
- 12 From No.10 - Non-political staff working in No. 10 Downing Street, such as David, the facilities manager and Ian, custodian, were invited by Government Art Collection to select work that has been shown in this historic building over the years. Their choices included the 1836 portrait of Lord Byron’s daughter and scientist, Ada Lovelace, by Margaret Carpenter and videos by the artistic duo Wood & Harrison.
- Commissions: Now and Then - The Government Art Collection began to commission works of art directly from artists over 60 years ago. Many of these works were commissioned for new embassy buildings and to record important national events. This display includes commissions such as Catherine Yass’ colour transparencies of the British Embassy in Paris in the day and evening light.
Drawing on the archives of the Government Art Collection and other lenders, a further section of the Exhibition uses the letters of Prime Ministers, artists, diplomats and civil servants to explore the history of the Collection
Speaking about the exhibition, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“It’s great that this range of works – which have been displayed in British Embassies, High Commissions and other offices and residences around the world – have all come together under the one roof here in Birmingham where they can be enjoyed by everyone. This celebration of British artists from the 16th century to the present day is a fantastic reminder of our proud artistic history.”
A free gallery guide will illustrate all of the works in the Exhibition, and feature two essays by Cornelia Parker and Simon Schama.
The free entry exhibition will also be accompanied by a programme of gallery talks, led by Government Art Collection curators, and evening events where you can find out more about the collection. For further information, including admission prices for the special events, visit www.bmag.org.uk
The exhibition is created from a series of displays staged in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, London, 3 June 2011 – 9 September 2012
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