UK Government Art Collection: ‘At Work’ – new Whitechapel Gallery Exhibition

June 13, 2011 on 5:40 pm | In Art Exhibitions, L.S. Lowry, Tracey Emin | 1 Comment

For the first time in its 113 year history, art from the Government’s collection is currently being exhibited in the Whitechapel Gallery, East London.

I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race by Derek Boshier (painted in 1962)

The exhibition titled ‘Government Art Collection: At Work’ displays the varying traditional, historical, and contemporary artworks that hang upon the walls of numerous political buildings throughout the worlds cities, and inspire Governments at work. This collection consists of pieces chosen by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Lord Mandelson, former Business Secretary Dame Anne Pringle, Lord Boateng; former Government Minister and British High Commissioner to South Africa, and the Prime Minister’s Wife; Samantha Cameron; to name but a few.

Lord Mandelson

The idea for this Government Art exhibition was the brain child of Culture Minister Ed Vaizy, who thought it an interesting idea to share the government’s unique and extremely large collection of art with the public. Vaizy explained how covering embassies and government office walls with art was cheaper than continuously redecorating, as a lot of the art owned by the Government was either donated, or in some cases purchased before artists would gain wide recognition (and therefore a lot more money) for their work.

Margate 1 Sand (2006) by Tracey Emin

Samantha Cameron has indicated how she is a fan of contemporary art and artists such as Tracey Emin. The Government Art Collection (GAC) bought two prints by the controversial and much talked about Emin, costing them a total of £14000; an amount that didn’t pass by without criticism. Other contemporary artworks purchased by the GAC also include David Batchelor’s Walldella VI; a sculpture made up of low energy light-bulbs and old plastic bottles.

Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook (1946) by L.S. Lowry

L.S. Lowry is another artist that features at the Whitehall Gallery, as his piece titled Lancashire Fair – Good Friday, Daisy Nook was personally selected by Samantha Cameron to be shown as a part of the At Work collection. This quintessentially English piece usually takes pride of place at Number 10 Downing Street.

The free exhibition will tour Birmingham and Belfast and will run until the end of 2012



Useful Links:

Guardian Article
Telegraph Article
Whitechapel Gallery

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