CAS Talks supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is a year-long programme of talks by contemporary artists that take place in the Contemporary Art Society’s Member Museums across the UK. The talks happen as a work by the artist enters the museum collection and are designed to introduce artists to new audiences.
The first talk in the programme was Magnus Quaife at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery on 31 October 2014. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery recently acquired three works on paper by Quaife from the series 1968 and other Myths through the Contemporary Art Society’s Fine Art Acquisitions Scheme.
Magnus Quaife (b. 1975, Nottingham, UK) lives and works in Manchester. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions as part of the Liverpool Biennial (2010) and WORKS|PROJECTS (2012 & 2014) with future solo exhibitions at Castlefield, Manchester (2015) and ICIA, Bath (2016). His practice involves an exploration of the significance and circulation of images and cultural artefacts through painting and curating.
As the 40th anniversary of the epoch-making events of May 1968 approached, Quaife embarked on a series of over 30 paintings which would take him three years to complete. The works in 1968 and Other Myths depict recognisable and iconic images from the 1968 student revolts as well as tangentially related ones, found through online research or via other unsystematic channels. The series has a relationship with history painting, although Quaife’s chosen medium of watercolour is unusual for such a potentially charged subject: it suggests the evanescence of the historical moment rather than its memorialising.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s collection focuses on major artists and movements of 20th and 21st century British art. The Contemporary Art Society has presented Swindon Museum and Art Gallery with three watercolour paintings from the series 1968 and Other Myths. Quaife’s concerns with subverting straightforward representation, reproduction and the relationship between source and artwork provide the potential for an interesting dialogue with work by Richard Hamilton, John Walker and Richard Long in Swindon’s collection.