To coincide with our current Voices from Westminster exhibition by John stewart Farrier here at The Strand Gallery, we want to explore the recurring theme of art and politics that is portrayed through Ferrier’s portraits – a theme we haven’t really touched upon before. One member of the team pitched the idea of a feature on Government art collecting, and we wanted them to run free with the concept. So here goes:
Today, the Government Art Collection is one of the most important collections in British art, bringing together pieces dating from the 16th century to the present day. It was in fact the rising costs of decoration in 1898 which motivated officials to use artwork to cover the walls and start the collection, which currently stands at over 13,500 paintings and sculptures, highlighting the importance of art to the Government today.
Art is selected for the Government Art Collection with the help of an advisory committee, who choose works from artists who have a strong British connection. The placement of art works in government buildings and embassies is also based on a piece’s connection to a location. For example, to mark Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, pieces were chosen from across European member states to exhibit, with the Farmleigh Gallery in Dublin acquiring Idris Khan’s “Bach … Six Suites for the Solo Cello” until the end of June.
Works from the Collection are displayed in the offices and reception rooms of several hundred major British Government buildings in the United Kingdom and around the world. Thousands of people visit these buildings every year and therefore the works of art themselves play a vital role in helping to promote British art and artists.
Written by Stephanie Jenkins.
Voices from Westminster by John Stewart Ferrier can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 3rd – 13th July.
All images © Government Art Collection.