Des Hughes

28 November 2013
Des Hughes, In a Brown Study, 2011, installation, 180 x 170 x 25 cm © the artist  Courtesy the artist and Ancient & Modern, London. (Art Cologne 2011)

Manchester Art Gallery

Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society for Manchester Art Gallery with support from V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Manchester Art Gallery Trust.  The Royal Manchester Institution for the Promotion of Literature, Science and the Arts, designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1824, became Manchester Art Gallery in 1882 when its collections were handed over to the city. The gallery has impressive historic and modern collections. The latter is particularly strong in early 20th century British art acquired through a bequest from Charles Rutherston, including work by Lowry, Liam Spencer, Wyndham Lewis and Henry Moore.

In a Brown Study, 2011 by Des Hughes is in part a creative response to Manchester Art Gallery’s public collection.  The framed screen assemblage explores the nature of collecting itself as well as the relationships formed between juxtaposed objects.

Des Hughes (b.1970 Birmingham) lives and works in Herefordshire.  His sculptural practice reconfigures our rapport with the everyday by staging banal ready-mades next to handcrafted replicas of commodities, and three-dimensional caricatures of familiar things. Hughes enjoys the act of making, forming casual relationships between objects and utilitarian materials. His world is one of surreal and comic relations, a particular form of deadpan Britishness.

In a Brown Study, 2011 takes its inspiration from the ‘framed screen’ at 2 Willow Road, Hampstead the home of the Modernist architect Erno Goldfinger.  It was used to display a constantly changing collection of family pictures and artefacts.  The screen was also used by Surrealists as a device for ‘framing openings’ a democratic space for insinuation and emotional relationships between objects that are introduced.  The work was launched into the collection through a display of works selected by Hughes that included The Artist’s Mother by Alberto Giacometti, Doves by Barbara Hepworth, drawing from the 16th century and 20th century landscapes, portrait and still lives.


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