Government launches scheme to promote next generation of UK artists globally

·2-min read
British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare at a Government Art Collection briefing (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare at a Government Art Collection briefing (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

British contemporary artists are set to benefit from a new five-year acquisitions project which will see their work displayed across embassies and government buildings around the world.

The Government Art Collection (GAC) is launching the scheme, known as X-UK, to showcase British creativity and further promote the country’s creative sector.

The collection, which is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will work with networks from across the UK to identify the next generation of artistic stars.

Harold Offeh saw his art join a national collection for the first time in his career (Government Art Collection/PA) (PA Media)
Harold Offeh saw his art join a national collection for the first time in his career (Government Art Collection/PA) (PA Media)

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “This fantastic new scheme will shine a light on the UK’s brilliant up-and-coming artists and promote our cutting-edge creative industries on the world stage.

“The five-year X-UK project aims to be a true reflection of every part of the United Kingdom and will bring some of our most exciting artists to audiences in more than 125 countries.”

The X-UK project initially ran as a pilot scheme when more than 90 pieces by 45 contemporary visual artists were acquired for the collection between 2020 and 2021.

Those works are now on display in government buildings around the country and internationally in British embassies and residences including Paris, Ankara, The Holy See in Rome and 10 Downing Street.

The pilot showcased the impact on an artist’s career by helping to bring their art to new audiences and raising their profiles.

Glasgow-based artist Alberta Whittle went on to represent Scotland at the 59th Biennale di Venezia in 2022 and has pieces on display in the National Galleries of Scotland.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of work by Manish Harijan led to him being granted a global talent visa by the British Council and Ghanian-born artist Harold Offeh saw his art join a national collection for the first time in his career.

Contemporary visual artist Harijan said: “Coming from the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, this is a valuable opportunity that has opened doors for me into the art world.

“Connecting with important art networks like CVAN Yorkshire and Humber, who nominated me to the Government Art Collection, has been inspiring, and following the acquisition of my work by the collection, the British Council granted me a global talent visa.”

Contemporary visual artist Offeh said: “As a Cambridge-based artist, having my work selected for the Government Art Collection was a huge boost. The recognition and validation of my practice has been extremely encouraging and I’m excited to be part of a national collection for the first time.”