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Arts Council Collection announces 2017-18 acquisitions
Matthew Krishanu, #Girl with Book, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 75 x 60 cm. Images courtesy of the artist.

LONDON.- The Arts Council Collection, the UK’s largest national loan collection of modern and contemporary art, today unveils the full list of 47 works by 25 artists that it has acquired for the nation in 2017-18. It was a noteworthy year for female artists coming into the Collection and for the first time the number of female artists outweighs the number of works by men, 15 to 10.

Among the highlights are works which will soon be on view in galleries across the country; Emma Hart’ s, Fork Face, 2017 is currently included in Arts Council Collection’s latest touring exhibition at Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, In My Shoes: Art & the Self since the 1990s, before setting off on a nationwide tour. Two works from Manchester-based artist Miskha Henner’s series Dutch Landscapes, 2011 will be shown at Towner Art Gallery’s exhibition At Altitude in Eastbourne in June this year.

The Arts Council Collection have received support from Art Fund this year to acquire two major works. Caragh Thuring’s Ardyne Point, 2016 will be part of another ACC touring show, curated by artist, Yinka Shonibare, opening later this year. The acquisition of Melanie Manchot Dance (All Night, London) 2017, a collective dance performance specially commissioned by Art Night (London) was made possible by Art Fund and Art Night.

Additionally, the artist John Sheehy gifted 2 works, which accompany three other paintings which were purchased by the Collection. Sheehy began painting at the age of 51, and over the past 18 years has produced a vast body of work that also includes printmaking and sculpture, in addition to playwriting, poetry and music. These works were presented in the artist’s first institutional exhibition, at Studio Voltaire in June 2017.

Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid’s, 2002 is a major work which celebrates an important but little known act of solidarity by Manchester mill workers at the time of the American Civil War. As President Lincoln moved to abolish slavery, cotton supplies from the USA dried up, resulting in mass unemployment. Despite the high personal cost, the workers’ unions passed a motion in support of Lincoln’s efforts to end slavery.

The Arts Council Collection supports and promotes British art and artists by buying their work at an early or critical stage in their career. The Acquisitions Committee also purchased four paintings by Bradford-born artist Matthew Krishanu.

Artist Matthew Krishanu said about his works being added to the Collection: “It’s wonderful to know my paintings will be looked after and shown in future exhibitions. For me, the free public galleries and collections of the country are the lifeblood of the visual arts: as a teenager, visits to my local gallery introduced me to contemporary art and the possibilities of becoming an artist. Many of my favourite painters are in the Arts Council Collection; I’m delighted to be a part of it.”

Works from the Collection – spanning video, photography, installation, painting, computer animation and sculpture – are lent to galleries and public institutions throughout the country. In 2017, one or more works from the Collection were shown in 60 different galleries and museums in the UK and 45 works were lent to 16 venues internationally, reaching an audience of over 2.2 million people. The newly acquired works on the list (detailed below) are all available to be lent to the nation with immediate effect.

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection, said: “This year was an exceptional year for the Arts Council Collection with artists from across the country being acquired.and we will be making sure that these works are seen as widely as possible. I am particularly proud that for the first time the number of female artists exceeds the number of men bought in any year. In this important year for women.”

Peter Heslip, Director, Visual Arts, Arts Council England, said: “The Arts Council Collection is one of a kind, and the Committee work hard throughout the year, actively collecting work and supporting artists right across the country. Now we hand over to the Collection team who will ensure these important pieces are seen by the most people for years to come.”

Recommendations to purchase innovative works of art that reflect artistic practice in Britain today are made by a changing group of external advisors to the Arts Council Collection Acquisitions Committee. For 2017-18 the selection committee comprised of: Helen Legg, Director, Spike Island, Bristol; Morgan Quaintance, writer and curator; and Anthea Hamilton, artist. The four permanent members of the acquisitions committee are: Jill Constantine, Director, Arts Council Collection; Peter Heslip, Director, Visual Arts, Arts Council England; and Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery, London. The Chair of the Committee for 2017-18 was Maria Balshaw, Director, Tate Galleries.

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