LONDON.- Dulwich Picture Gallery
will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2011 with its first ever acquisition of a piece of contemporary sculpture, purchased and presented to the gallery by the Art Fund
in honour of Dulwichs bicentenary. The work, called Walking the Dog I, II,III, is by leading British sculptor Peter Randall-Page, who is currently enjoying rave reviews for his exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Inspired by the Gallerys famous building and its three founders, it is the first sculpture to be included in the permanent collection.
Randall-Page (b. 1954) was first introduced to the Gallery, through mutual friends. Ian Dejardin, the Gallerys Director, was quick to follow up, having been an enthusiastic admirer of the sculptors work for several year. I had a private list of sculptors whose work I dreamed of one day seeing in the garden at Dulwich Peter was always top of that list, says Dejardin.
At the Directors invitation, Randall-Page then spent time at the Gallery, drawing and taking photographs, getting to know the building and the surrounding landscape. He was impressed by the simple proportions of the Gallery, designed by Sir John Soane in 1811, and was particularly struck by the running dog pattern that Soane had used as a decorative feature on the outside of the Gallery. This pattern related very closely to the naturally occurring patterns that have always informed his work. Other sculptural motifs on the Gallery urns, and sarcophagi - occur in threes, relating to the Gallerys three founders: Mr and Mrs Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois. In creating Walking the Dog I, II,III, Peter Randall-Page chose to echo these by selecting three boulders, carving the running dog motif on their curved surfaces.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said I can think of no better way to celebrate the bicentenary of the Dulwich Picture Gallery - that unique gem in the world of museums - than with the acquisition of a work by one of the most distinctive sculptors working in this country today. Peter Randall-Pages response to Soanes elegant building, with its implicit tribute to the Gallerys Founders, is considered and quietly moving. I am delighted that the Art Fund is presenting Walking the Dog I,II & III as a gift to the gallery where it will soon be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.
Randall-Page had his first solo exhibition in 1980 at the Gardner Centre, University of Sussex, and has shown regularly since then. Many of his works are in public collections, including the British Museum, the Contemporary Art Society, and the Tate Gallery. Dulwichs sculpture, and many others, will be on extended view at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 11 April 2010.
The Art Fund has previously helped Dulwich Picture Gallery to buy Ideal View of Dulwich Picture Gallery, 1820 by JM Gandy (1772 1843) and Portrait of Jacob de Witt by Gerrit van Honhorst (1590 1656).
Walking the Dog I, II, III will be installed at the Gallery in September 2010.