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Arts Council Collection New Acquisitions 2008— 09

Arts Council Collection New Acquisitions 2008— 09

The Arts Council Collection supports artists in this country through the purchase and display of their work. Since it was founded in 1946, the Collection’s acquisitions policy has always been characterised by a spirit of risk taking combined with an informed appraisal of current practice. As a consequence the Arts Council Collection is now the largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, and includes fine examples of work by this country’s most prominent artists. It is the most widely circulated of all of Britain’s national collections and can be seen in exhibitions in museums and galleries across the UK and abroad.

The external members of the Acquisitions Committee for 2007–09 were: Rosalind Nashashibi Artist Katrina Brown Director, The Common Guild Glasgow Kodwo Eshun Writer, theorist and artist, Director of MA in Aural and Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College

Anna Barriball

Barriball’s practice examines very ordinary everyday objects and materials, whose presence, function and resonance she scrutinises and records with an acute mixture of subtlety and rigour. Often using very straightforward means her work achieves a beguiling authority, which is so much more than the sum of its parts. Sunset/Sunrise V — a pencil-onpaper rubbing of a decorative sunrise stained-glass window — is intensely worked. The colour and luminescence of the original object is replaced by an impenetrable graphite sheen.

Steven Claydon

The Ancient Set, 2008 DVD, 7 min, 56 sec

Sunset/Sunrise V, 2008 pencil on paper, 85 × 110 cm

Steve Claydon’s film The Ancient Set takes found images of people dressing up as Greeks and Romans, overlaid with a soundtrack Claydon created by feeding a score using replica Roman instruments through the GarageBand computer programme. Claydon repeatedly turns to the notion of the Classical model as the “backbone of Modern European idea of culture and art”, bastardised through the successive misreadings of the Renaissance to the Victorian eras. The starting point for the work was an awareness of the way Classical culture is invoked to confer gravitas on contemporary society: “This idea that we have in modern society, where we find it necessary to create a link between a bucolic or traditional past, and a technological sophisticated present and try to wrap that up as a wholeistic nasty package like off-cuts from the butchers, is an odd belief.”

Luke Collins MUIN, 2006 video transferred to 4 DVDs 16 min, 13 sec

Displayed on four monitors running concurrently, each ‘episode’ of MUIN (My Urge Is Natural) operates to the same formula: a three part musical score, with an introduction, a refrain or chorus followed by a coda or conclusion.

Collins begins each episode, setting the scene and arranging his various props (from vegetables held in his mouth, to an all in one water-proof suit). As this preparation is being filmed, he reaches to set the self-timer on a camera; the shutter is released, leaving a momentary pause in the moving image, a snapshot, before Collins relaxes his pose. The next sequence, an interlude of soft, lilting piano music follows, and the camera pans across folds of luxurious fabric, as a velvet-gloved hand caresses brightly coloured ribbons and fur. In the third and final scene, the camera alternately pauses or sweeps through an anonymous hotel bedroom, an aircraft hanger, or a deserted cityscape.

Susan Collis

Susan Collis’ rawl plugs appear to have been left behind after the removal of an artwork from an exhibition. However, closer inspection reveals that these are not just standard plastic plugs, but finely crafted objects from brown goldstone and onyx, their seeming ordinariness belying their true value. According to the artist the ‘dual ideas of unbelievable perfection and mess’ combine with her interest in material and process to ‘make a kind of poetic language’.

Untitled (rawl plugs), 2007 brown goldstone, onyx 2 parts, diameter 0.8cm Untitled (rawl plugs), 2007 brown goldstone, onyx 2 parts, diameter 0.8cm

Keith Coventry

The ‘Crack City’ body of work had its inception with a series of five Malevichinspired white abstract paintings, that relate to the earlier ‘Estate’ painting series with which Coventry made his name in the 1990s. Like the ‘Estate’ paintings, the square forms in these abstracts are taken from the plan footprint of a group of tower blocks in London, popularly known as ‘Crack City’ because of their social problems and history of drug use. Coventry’s use of traditional media — oil on canvas, cast bronze sculpture and engraving — connects conceptually with his long-held interest in icons of modernist art. The works in the ‘Crack City’ series make explicit reference to the suprematist abstraction of Kasimir Mallevich, and to Giorgio Morandi’s metaphysical still lives of the 1920s and 30s. Coventry brings

21st century subject matter into intriguing counterpoint with this earlier age. While one might see references to drug culture in art as part of a tradition that includes de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Hogarth’s Gin Lane prints, or Huxley’s influential book, Doors of Perception, Coventry’s work makes no claim to any social commentary. The intense focus on abject, home-made crack pipes seems to connect far more closely with Morandi’s portrayal of the mysterious life of objects. Coventry’s acute observation of the paraphernalia of crack cocaine addiction sets up a framework in which all of these ideas, and more, are held in delicate equilibrium. The Arts Council Collection is most grateful to The Art Fund for their very generous support of the acquisition of this major body of work.

Black Crack Pipes, 1999 oil on canvas, wood, gesso, glass 36  ×  43.5  ×  4  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund ↖ Crack Pipes, 1999 oil on canvas, wood, gesso, glass 36  ×  43.5  ×  4  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund Crack Pipes, 1998–99 oil on canvas, wood, gesso, glass 36  ×  43.5  ×  4  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund ↖ Crack Pipe 4, 1998 bronze, 19.2  ×  17  ×  6  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund

Crack Pipe 5, 1998 bronze 17.5  ×  14  ×  6  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund Crack Pipe 6, 1998 bronze, 21.4  ×  15  ×  6  cm Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund Inhaler (Crack Pipe/ Asthma Inhaler), 1998 bronze, 7  ×  5  ×  5.5  cm Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack Pipes, 1999 etching, 26  ×  43.5  cm Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack Pipes, 2000 photolithograph 89.5  ×  126  cm

Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack Den, 2000 photolithograph 89.5  ×  126  cm Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack, 2000 photolithograph 89.5  ×  126  cm Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack Pipes, 2006 etching, 19.8  ×  27.8  cm AP ⁄ Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London Crack Pipes, 2006 etching, 19.8 x 27.8cm AP ⁄ Gift of the artist, through Haunch of Venison, London

Kate Davis’s early work examines the relationship between the body and everyday objects, such as bicycles, telephones, ladders and microphones. The objects often manipulated, cast or built from dysfunctional and simplistic materials are employed as extensions of her drawings and photographs, either displayed adjacent or attached to the works themselves. The artist deliberately restricts their utility rendering them obsolete. They exist as furtive reminders of the absent physical body and its functions.

Kate Davis

→ Partners Study (Figure I), 2005 pencil on paper, ceramic; 31 × 28 × 3 cm Player (Second Act), 2005 etching and punchbag image 25 × 27cm punchbag 155 × 50 × 50cm

Rod Dickinson and Tom McCarthy

Greenwich Degree Zero, 2005–6 multimedia installation dimensions variable

On 15 February 1894 a French anarchist named Martial Bourdin was killed when the bomb he was carrying detonated. The explosion took place on the slope beneath the Royal Observatory in London’s Greenwich Park, and it was generally assumed that his intention had been to blow up the Observatory. In Greenwich Degree Zero, Rod Dickinson and Tom McCarthy re-imagine Bourdin’s act as a successful attack on the Observatory. They do so by infiltrating and twisting the media of Bourdin’s time; reproducing extant newspaper reports re-worked to fit their version of events, and presenting a film made with a hand-cranked Victorian cinematic camera capturing the moment of the Observatory’s destruction, as well as photographic images of the ruins.

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard Walking After Acconci (Redirected Approaches), 2005 digital video file and DVD, 24 min

Since the mid 1990s, Forsyth and Pollard have become known for re-enacting a diverse range of cultural and art historical events and documents. Through stylistic and aesthetic references to contemporary urban music videos, the artists seem to be making reference to the fact that, as an audience, we have become used to being directly addressed through screen images. Walking After Acconci (1973) is based on performance artist, Vito Acconci’s Walk Over (1973) and similarly features a young man approaching and walking

away from a front facing camera that has been positioned as an intercom or ‘peep hole’ might be in the door of a residential flat. The performer, the MC known as Plan B (679 Recordings), frequently moves close to the camera — allowing the viewer extreme close-ups of his mouth as he taunts his unseen lover with deeply personal jibes, before nonchalantly walking away, whistling and smoking. As Plan B articulates very early on in the film: ‘I know you like to watch.’

File Under Sacred Music, 2003 digital video file and DVD, 22 min

File under Sacred Music is a re-enactment of a free concert originally performed by the Garage Punk band The Cramps for the patients of the California State Mental Hospital in Napa, California on 13 June 1978. Having purchased the original videotape of The Cramps’ performance, Forsyth and Pollard put together a band of known musicians and arranged for a set to be specially constructed. Following a six month period of preparation and research, Forsyth and Pollard’s re-enactment took place on 3 March 2003 at the ICA in London and was watched by members of mental health organisations.

The resulting footage was then heavily edited and degraded in an attempt to recreate both the content and the damaged black and white aesthetic of the original tape. This process included several days spent refilming from dusty TV screens, using outdated technology, and physically damaging the videotape. Forsyth and Pollard’s meticulously ‘authentic’ result therefore addresses questions surrounding the status of both the ‘live’ and the ‘real’.

John Frankland

16 Screen Tests features plastic carrier bags that the artist has been collecting for twenty years. By scooping them full of air the artist contrived to make each one sit briefly, as a three dimensional object, on the floor in order to photograph them. The work consists of a slide show featuring each bag, one after another, projected actual size on to a screen. The screen sits on the floor so that the bags appear to be standing like sculptures in the room; the throw-away quality and fleeting sculptural status of the flimsy bags are doubled by their immaterial reiteration as projected images.

16 Screen Tests, 2008 80 colour slide transparencies and aluminium screen 78 × 118 × 34.5 cm

Margaret Harrison

Women of the World Unite you have nothing to lose but Cheese Cake was painted at a critical time when feminism had first embarked on a significant re-write of a gender-imbalanced history. Harrison intended her works to be an amusing feminist critique: ‘They are satires on maleness and femaleness, and constructed notions of masculinity and femininity, which distort both men and women … both satirical and affectionate.’

Women of the World Unite, you have nothing to lose but Cheese Cake, 1969 acrylic on canvas, 88  ×  53 cm

However, her work met with opposition. On the first showing of this painting and the accompanying drawings at Motif Editions Gallery, London in 1971, the exhibition was closed by police a day after it opened. The police were responding to complaints about the pornographic nature of some of the works, particularly the images of men.

Laurence Kavanagh The Sayonara Room, 2008, installation, dimensions variable → The Lonely House (veranda), 2008, collage; 65  ×  38 cm

The Sayonara Room forms part of a larger installation, The Lonely House, 2008, created on the top floor of an empty office building in Archway, North London. Following research undertaken while Kavanagh was artist in residence at Byam Shaw School of Art, the work is based on motifs taken from the last films to be shown in the cinemas around the area before they closed down. The office building stands on the site of one of the closed cinemas, The Electric Palace, whose final film was The Lonely House, 1957, directed by Montgomery Tully.

Each of the six rooms that comprise The Lonely House use an element of the final films screened in the six closed cinemas: a spilt glass, an empty cigarette packet, a stairway, a cowboy and his horizon. As the artist describes, ‘these moments, scenes and objects are not literally recreated, but continually overlay one another, forming and re-forming new narratives as the viewer moves in and around the installation  … the work plays on a constant shift between the human desire for both past and future, whilst fixing these moments to a specific location.’

In Pandora’s Ball Torsten Lauschmann shows a woman’s legs, pictured from midcalf down, dancing above a large, glossy pearl-like sphere superimposed over a cobbled street. The woman’s feet, in whiteheeled shoes, tiptoe elegantly around the pearl bubble, which extends beyond the moving image frame into the darkness below. In creating this work, Lauschmann moved the entire frame of the film millisecond by millisecond so that the ‘legs appear to skip on top of the sphere,’ creating what he describes as ‘a carefree dance becoming a Sisyphean task.’

Torsten Lauschmann

Working across photography, sculpture, sound, film and performance, Lauschmann manipulates the viewer’s expectations of each medium. With a strong technological knowledge, his work is grounded in invention or the re-invention of historical methods.

Pandora’s Ball, 2008 DVD installation, 12sec

Olivia Plender

This work is part of a five part comic book series entitled The Masterpiece (2001 – 06). It was originally made for an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2004, and was produced as an unlimited edition comic book sold inexpensively as part of the exhibition. The original inspiration for the series was Öyvind Fahlström’s plan to create an alternative distribution network for artworks, in order to make them available for a wider public to purchase as cheap multiples in the same way as a record or comic.

The Masterpiece, Issue 2 — Birth of a Genius, 2004 pencil on paper, 40 parts, each 29.7  ×  21 cm

All five comic books are set in the past, in a fictional avant-garde London, and seem to question popular myths and clichés surrounding Bohemianism and the Romantic notion of ‘genius’. Within this particular issue, the main character Nick exists as a struggling painter within the context of the swinging 1960’s. The form the work takes, of a mass produced comic, is in deliberate contrast to the unique one off masterpiece that the central character is obsessed with making, especially since all the drawings are based on secondary sources from advertising, horror films and pulp book covers.

This work consists of a brass bell placed next to a sign reading ‘NOT TO BE RUNG AGAIN UNTIL JESUS RETURNS’. At a glance, the sign appears to be made from a piece of folded card on which the words have been hand-written in capitals with felt-tip pen.

David Shrigley

Comedy, reference to religion, and amateur style of writing are all typical of Shrigley’s work. As Michael Bracewell suggests, Shrigley’s sculpture and drawings describe ‘an arcane, dangerous world in which the smallest of incidents present moral crisis and the best intentions of sanity or innocence are challenged by the forces of evil.’

The Bell, 2007 brass bell and aluminium sign 155.5  ×  50  ×  50 cm

Amikam Toren

Received Wisdom, 2006 plywood, metal and vinyl 237  ×  66  ×  45 cm

This sculpture features a student’s lecture chair with a small ‘L’ shaped wooden board attached to its right hand side. However, in this case, twenty or thirty further boards have been placed on top of the original extending up and up in a similar manner to Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture Endless Column. This tower obliterates the object’s original function and the whole piece would topple if it was not securely fixed to the floor. According to the artist, the extraordinary form that emerges out of such a mundane object serves to create ‘A perfect, symbiotic relationship between form and content, between the uneducated and the enlightened, the power of knowledge and its vulnerability, the rough and the smooth, the totally uninspired and the brilliance of imagination.’

Martin Westwood

Extrusion 24. Geld. consists of two sheets of paper shown side by side in a wooden frame. The left hand sheet shows an image of a woman about to ring a reception bell, together with images of superheroes’ muscles, cut out from DC comic books and pinned to a computer wrist rest. These images are partially obscured by several vertical lines arranged in a manner reminiscent of the ‘privacy’ windows of modern offices. Echoes, or perhaps reflections, of the woman’s outline are visible in the background. On the right hand sheet, further cutouts of muscles are shown as though fixed among a series of rigid biro lines.

As with a great deal of the Westwood’s works, the choice of imagery and paraphernalia are reminiscent of corporate identity and 1980s inspired office space. There is a sense of fixity, repression and anonymity about the work. His decision to rigidly pin down representations of human muscles, for example, hints at the idea of the corporate world as dehumanising.

Extrusion 24. Geld. 2008 paper, newsprint, rubber, vinyl, gouache, metal and pen on board 97  ×  140.1  ×  7.2  cm Extrusion 19. Log-out and Last-life. 2008 aluminium, rubber, fabric, metal, gold, nickel, paper and pen on board 97.4  ×  140.1  ×  7.2  cm

Clare Woods

Daddy Witch, 2008 enamel and oil on aluminium 218.5  ×  350.5 cm

Daddy Witch pictures an inverted pool, bathed in moonlight, reflecting the surrounding, shadowy landscape. Clare Woods creates large-scale panelled landscapes on aluminium using household enamel and oil paint. She works from photographs, captured at night and taken at obtuse angles peering into ponds, woodlands and forests. For the artist ‘these locations, devoid of any particular focus, are places of possible significance’, both ecological and anthropological. Woods refers to her landscapes as ‘supernaturally charged rural places’, which are settings for ancient rites, pagan rituals and folk traditions. Rather than views of resplendent beauty, it is an unsettling and intense depth that she achieves, giving ‘a dark hue to any romantic visions of nature’.

The Arts Council Collection is based at Southbank Centre, London and at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield. For further information about the Arts Council Collection please visit Loans from the Collection are generally free of charge. Where exceptional curatorial or technical support is required a small fee may be charged to cover administration, preparation and installation costs. To enquire about borrowing work from the Arts Council Collection, email All images are Š the artists

Cover: Steven Claydon The Ancient Set, 2008

New Acquisitions 2008-2009  

New Acquisitions 2008-2009

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