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Art Fund helps leading regional museums collect major artists' films
5,000 Feet Is The Best, 2011. Digital film. Color, sound. 30 min (loop). Commissioned by the Hermes Foundation, Dublin Contemporary, The Model. Produced by Commonwealth Projects. Courtesy of the artist and Arratia Beer, Berlin.

LONDON.- Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves (2010), a film inspired by the cockle-pickers tragedy in Morecambe Bay in 2004, is one of the first works acquired through the Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund for Museums.

The work has been jointly acquired by Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, and the Whitworth in Manchester. It is the first time that a film by Isaac Julien has been acquired for a public collection in the UK outside London.

Isaac Julien, artist, said: "I am deeply honoured that Ten Thousand Waves is the first work to be acquired by this important initiative of the Moving Image Art Fund. Ten Thousand Waves is a piece that began its life in the North of England and its homecoming is incredibly meaningful to me. The work has been collected by museums and collections world over and its acquisition in England, and even more significantly outside of London, shows the dedication that the Art Fund has towards the conservation of moving image works and their democratisation to wider audiences. "

The two galleries are the first recipients of the Moving Image Fund, which the Art Fund launched last September in partnership with Thomas Dane Gallery, to ensure that major artist’s film and video works are acquired for public collections, which can be expensive to produce and complex to display.

Also acquired is Omer Fast’s 5,000 Feet is the Best (2011), a 30-minute film that weaves together a former drone operator’s account of his life and work along with scenes depicting crimes in and around Las Vegas. The work is a joint acquisition between Towner Art Gallery, through the Moving Image Fund for Museums, and IWM (through the Art Fund’s New Collecting Award scheme).

Omer Fast, artist, said: “I am very pleased that 5,000 Feet is the Best will now be represented in UK public collections and cannot think of more appropriate homes than the Towner Art Gallery and Imperial War Museum. The work was previously presented at the IWM and it's a wonderful opportunity to reach a broader audience than it typically enjoys in art gallery contexts. I feel very privileged to have my work acquired through this special scheme, and I look forward to hearing more about the work’s exhibition plans and how it is received by visitors in Manchester, Eastbourne and beyond.”

This investment in major acquisitions for collections outside the capital comes at a time when there is widespread concern about the impact that the local authority settlements will have on 94% of UK museums. The initiative, supported by a consortium of benefactors, is giving £180,000 each to the Whitworth and Towner Art Gallery to collect artists’ film and video.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund said, “These are hugely important works, and now they are in public collections around the country they can be experienced by everyone. Given the pressure regional museums are under right now, it is imperative that we do all we can to help them continue investing in building up the national collections. Our heartfelt thanks to Thomas Dane Gallery and all our supporters for making this new initiative happen.”

Emma Morris, executive director of Towner Art Gallery, said: “I clearly remember the first time I saw ‘Ten Thousand Waves’ and ‘5,000 Feet is the Best’; they both made a huge impression on me and I have thought about the works a lot since then. We are delighted to have these two incredible works in our public collection and would like to thank the Art Fund, Thomas Dane Gallery, Isaac Julian, Omer Fast and their galleries for supporting these acquisitions. We have recently been awarded funding from Arts Council England to build a small cinema in our ground floor. This, along with the Moving Image Fund, enables us to position Towner as the leading venue in the South East for artists’ moving image.”

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