UK contemporary artworks to feature at buildings including 10 Downing Street

·3-min read

Contemporary artworks selected for the Government Art Collection (GAC) will soon be displayed at flagship buildings including 10 Downing Street.

The GAC has used £230,000 of funding to acquire 90 contemporary pieces from 45 UK-based artists and support them through the pandemic.

The pieces include ink animal drawings by Manchester-based artist Leslie Thompson, who is supported by learning difficulties charity Venture Arts, and an intricate wooden construction akin to a miniature theatre set titled The Kiss by Northern Irish artist Graham Gingles.

'Animals from memory' by Leslie Thompson
‘Animals from memory’ by Leslie Thompson (Government Art Collection/Leslie Thompson/PA)

The collection also includes four colourful patterned images which tell a story about market communities across Sandwell in the West Midlands, made by Coventry University visiting lecturer Nilupa Yasmin.

A coffee-coloured heart pattern on two adjacent ceramic slabs called The Slab – The Wild Heart of Ireland by Jamie Crewe, and a photograph taken by Michal Iwanowski featuring residents from Penygraig in the Rhondda Valley of Wales by Rabab Ghazoul and Valleys Kids youth group are also featured.

The pieces will join the 14,500 other GAC works which are displayed at buildings including Number 10 and Number 11 Downing Street, and British embassies in 130 countries.

'The Kiss' by Graham Gingles (Government Art Collection/PA).
‘The Kiss’ by Graham Gingles (Government Art Collection/Graham Gingles/PA)

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she is “grateful” that GAC has been able to support “many brilliant artists” amid the pandemic.

She said: “The past year has been challenging for the UK’s many brilliant artists.

“I am grateful that the Government Art Collection has been able to support a diverse range of artists from every corner of the country.”

UK Government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said the Government has also provided Scotland’s devolved powers with £97 million for the country’s arts organisations and £1 million to support the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Slab - The Wild Heart of Ireland by Jamie Crewe
The Slab – The Wild Heart of Ireland by Jamie Crewe (The Government Art Collection/Jamie Crewe/PA)

Describing the new GAC artworks, he added: “The pieces provide a creative snapshot of the times we’re living through, reflecting a rich variety of voices from right across the UK.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he is “delighted” that four artists from the country were chosen for the collection.

He added: “This is a tremendous boost for the industry as we continue to move out of the pandemic, allowing artistic talent from across the UK to be showcased to a wider audience.”

Sir David Verey, chair of the GAC’s advisory committee, added: “There is no better way to support artists in this terrible time than to buy their art.

“The advisory committee of the Government Art Collection is very proud to have been part of this effort.”

'It's Art But It's Not' by Rabab Ghazoul
‘It’s Art But It’s Not’ by Rabab Ghazoul/Valleys Kids (The Government Art Collection/Michal Iwanowski/PA)

The collection, which began in 1899, aims to promote British art by displaying it in a broad range of media in almost every capital city.

It is also accessible to the public through loans to exhibitions, collaborative programmes, tours and digital platforms.

GAC has an annual budget and the advisory committee meets to agree on potential acquisitions for the collection three times a year.

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