Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The New Art Gallery Walsall celebrates 20 years

Soheila Sokhanvari, Two'Serious Ladies', 2015,egg tempera on vellum.
The New Art Gallery Walsall Permanent Collection

This month The New Art Gallery Walsall celebrates 20 years with a series of exhibitions and celebratory events. Since opening in February 2000, the Gallery has welcomed over 3.5 million visitors.

To mark this special occasion, the Gallery will bring together works of contemporary art collected over the last 20 years, from artists who have featured in the exhibitions and Studio programmes. 20:20 - Twenty Years of Collecting Contemporary Art will reflect overlapping themes such as the changing urban landscape, the Black Country, the impact of globalisation and people and places, and will feature work from a selection of international artists as well as those closer to home. Artists include Mohamed Bourouissa, Romuald Hazoumè, Juneau Projects, Hew Locke, Yinka Shonibare, Dayanita Singh, Bob and Roberta Smith, Soheila Sokhanvari and many others across Floor 3 and throughout the building. 

Highlights include Grazia Toderi’s stunning audio-visual installation Orbite Rosse (2009) which was acquired with support from Art Fund International. Nocturnal images of cities filmed from different viewpoints are superimposed and layered, continuously transforming and altering. Two broad oval shapes dominate, referencing a variety of sources including Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Jacopo de Barbari’s lithograph Venetie MD. The two ovals also relate to the “projections” of light that penetrate our consciousness through the two red orbits of our eyes. 

Also presented is Beninese artist Romuald Hazoumè’s extraordinary installation Article 14: Débrouille-toi, toi-mème! (2005) A market vendor’s cart that would once have carried newly manufactured products waiting for trade and consumption is now filled with empty shells and spent materials – the debris of capitalist exchange.  

20:20 also includes a range of works by artists who have engaged with the culture and landscape of the Black Country including Rita Donagh, Laura Oldfield Ford, Martin Parr and Mark Power.

Artists from the West Midlands region include Ruth Claxton, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Tift and Stuart Whipps. A series of portraits by photographer Ming De Nasty commissioned during the construction of The New Art Gallery Walsall feature people who were involved in the creation of the Gallery, from the architects Caruso St John to engineers, construction workers and Gallery staff, including a few who still work for the Gallery.

The exhibition will acknowledge significant gifts and schemes such as the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme and Art Fund International as well as the Clive Beardsmore Gift, a collection of 200 modern and contemporary works generously donated to the Gallery in 2014.

In an exhibition in the ground floor Community Gallery will be a selection of works by Director Stephen Snoddy, representing each individual year of the Gallery’s 20 year history. 20 for 2020 will include works by Gavin Turk, Christopher Le Brun, Soheila Sokhanvari and Jane and Louise Wilson. 

The much-loved Garman Ryan Collection will be displayed (almost) in its entirety, complemented by a series of works focusing on the women behind the Collection, Kathleen Garman (widow of Sir Jacob Epstein) and Sally Ryan, created during a residency at the Gallery in 2014 by Birmingham artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood. 

Stephen Snoddy, Director of The New Art Gallery Walsall said:

“For our 20th birthday celebrations, we are bringing together works of contemporary art from our collections that mark significant moments in our history. Our beautiful building will be bursting with a wide range of art works by local, regional, national and international artists.  We are immensely proud of our strong track record in supporting artists and exploring fresh and creative ways of connecting artists with audiences. We firmly believe that art has the power to inspire, to challenge and to bring people together and hope to continue to advocate the importance of the visual arts for many years to come.” 

A celebratory preview event open to all will be held on the evening of Thursday 20 February featuring eminent speakers and a DJ set by Bob and Roberta Smith. This will be followed on Saturday 22 February with Arty Party for all the family featuring music, free workshops, games and of course, birthday cake.

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