Press Release: UK museums selected to acquire new media or “challenging” artworks often missing from public collections

19 May 2013 By

3 May 2013

The Contemporary Art Society, in association with the Art Fund, is pleased to announce the inaugural winners of their new Testing Media initiative, which enables institutions across the UK to acquire contemporary artworks in new or challenging media for their collections.

The winners are:
• New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
• Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster in partnership with the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston

Testing Media is a new fund for the 65 museums that participate in the Contemporary Art Society’s Acquisition Scheme and is administered by the Contemporary Art Society and the Art Fund. The project has been designed to support the acquisition of significant works of contemporary art lying outside the traditional boundaries of fine art, for example, performance art, live art, works using new digital technologies, and works encompassing materials that present particular challenges relating to display and storage. Crucially, the fund will also develop the curatorial and conservation expertise of the successful museums.

Each of the winning museums will receive £30,000 to research and purchase a new work, and will liaise closely with the Contemporary Art Society and the Art Fund to make this selection and to develop a broader programme of new media in their institution. The fund also supports the winning museums to create case studies and best practice guidelines, with this information then being disseminated to the Contemporary Art Society’s and the Art Fund’s museum networks.

Final applications to purchase specific works will be submitted to the Contemporary Art Society and the Art Fund for consideration in November 2013, with acquisitions being made and exhibited fromDecember 2013. The Contemporary Art Society will host an exhibition of the purchased works and supporting seminars in its space at 59 Central Street, London, in May 2014.

Lucy Bayley, Museum Acquisitions & Public Programmes Manager at the Contemporary Art Society, said:
“We’re thrilled to be working closely with the Art Fund on this new purchasing scheme. The winning proposals, developed by the curators at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery and Peter Scott Gallery in partnership with the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, are exciting opportunities to place these museums at the centre of research into collecting new or challenging artwork – work that has often been missed out of public collections. We look forward to seeing how these two ambitious projects develop.”

Sarah Philp, Head of Programmes at the Art Fund, said: “The quality of the proposals submitted to Testing Media was fantastic, and it is extremely exciting that the museums selected have decided to focus on collecting performance art, a particularly fertile and challenging area of current artistic practice. We are looking forward to working closely with the Contemporary Art Society and the selected museums, and cannot wait to see how their projects develop.”

For all press enquiries, please contact:
Jenny Prytherch, Communications Manager
T. +44 (0)20 7017 8412



Notes to Editors:

The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8, 000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity, helping museums to buy and show great art for everyone. Over the past 5 years we’ve given £24m to help over 200 museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections, from ancient sculpture and treasure hoards to Old Master paintings and contemporary commissions. We also support a range of programmes which promote museums and their collections to wider audiences, including the national tour of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, the Art Fund Prize which rewards and celebrates Museum of the Year,  and our Art Guide, a pioneering smartphone app offering the most comprehensive guide to seeing art across the UK. We are independently funded, the majority of our income coming from 95,000 members who, through the National Art Pass, enjoy free entry to over 200 hundred museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions. Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at The press office can be reached on 020 7225 4820



Peter Scott Gallery is one of the constituent parts of Live at LICA (Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts), an interdisciplinary arts organisation based at Lancaster University. Live at LICA works across art forms and increasingly presents and commissions interdisciplinary practice.  As with many public collections, the Peter Scott Gallery holdings are diverse. Broadly, the gallery’s collection comprises of 20th century prints and paintings, Pilkington’s Tile and Pottery Company material, Chinese and Japanese art and a small holding of antiquities. In addition to the development of the existing collection areas, the formation of Live at LICA has refocused contemporary collecting and is a key development area for the future.

The Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston, Lancashire, is one of the leading contemporary art venues in the North West. A Grade I listed building, opened in 1893, it holds substantial collections of mainly British, fine and decorative art as well as a significant local history collection.  The museum’s vision is ‘to extend our reputation as an outstanding museum and art gallery that is distinctive, ambitious, audience-focussed and open to change.’  The Harris was a founder gallery member of the Contemporary Art Society and has benefitted from significant support from both CAS and The Art Fund.  In recent years the museum has reflected its contemporary exhibition programme by collecting digital art including works by Robert Cahen, Thomson & Craighead, Harrison and Wood, and Terry Flaxton.

New Walk Museum & Art Gallery has wide-ranging collections and displays spanning the natural and cultural worlds. The museum’s exhibitions programme features works from their collections, touring exhibitions from National Museums and a programme of contemporary art and craft exhibitions.
The art galleries include permanent displays of Picasso Ceramics: The Attenborough Collection and German Expressionist Art, the collection acclaimed as the finest of its kind in the UK. Artists featured in the German Expressionist collection include Marc, Kandinsky, Münter, Heckel, Kirchner, Jawlensky and Schmidt-Rottluff, and artists preceding or influenced by Expressionism also enrich the collection, including Liebermann, Feininger, Kollwitz and Grosz.  Funding support for works in the collection has been received from The Art Fund, The V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the City of Leicester Museums Trust and now also the Contemporary Art Society.


Ivan Seal TUE 23 APR — FRI 24 MAY
Ivan Seal’s painting plemploted fowidead and its accompanying drawing ors devurth at seven (swingerbuffetbit), both 2011, were gifted by the Contemporary Art Society to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery in 2012. These works will be on display at the Contemporary Art Society with works from Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery’s collection selected by the artist.

David Hockney WED 5 JUNE — FRI 16 AUGUST [PREVIEW: TUES 4 JUNE, 18.30 — 20.30]
The Contemporary Art Society recently gifted David Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress (1961–3) to the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, as a bequest from Dr. Ronald Lande in memory of his life partner Walter Urech. We are delighted to present the entire set of 16 prints this summer. This seminal work is a semi-autobiographical story about Hockney, the ‘rake’, and the down and outs of his life in New York in the early 1960s. Its format, story and numbering system are based on William Hogarth’s 1735 suite of prints of the same title. Where Hogarth’s 18th century prints illustrate the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, Hockney’s work tells the story of the rake arriving in New York through to his eventual fate in Bedlam, a place of the mindless masses of the ‘other people’. Curator Helen Stalker of the Whitworth Art Gallery discusses the pervading influence of A Rake’s Progress at the Contemporary Art Society on 13 June.

John Stezaker WED 4 SEPT — FRI 4 OCTOBER [PREVIEW: TUES 3 SEPTEMBER, 18.30 — 20.30]
British artist John Stezaker uses collage to explore the subversive within found images such as film magazines, vintage postcards and illustrations. Fall XII and Fall XIII (both 1992) were recently bought for York Art Gallery through the Contemporary Art Society with support from the Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The male and female collages explore traditional artistic training such as anatomical study and life drawing, by referencing the source material of Arthur Thompson’s book Anatomy for Art Students, a core text for students at the Slade School of Art until the 1970s. Fall XII andFall XIII are on display at the Contemporary Art Society alongside a selection of other works from York Art Gallery’s collection. John Stezaker discusses his work at the Contemporary Art Society on 12 September.