A room-scale installation by Sonia Boyce OBE RA for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) is among the second round of acquisitions through the CAS Rapid Response Fund following a crowdfunding campaign that has raised total donations to over £234,000. Over £90,000 has been spent in this round, supporting six artists and six museums around the UK.
Devotional Wallpaper and Placards, 2008-2020 emerged from collaboration between the artist and Liverpool Black Sisters, and will form the centrepiece of a major exhibition of Boyce’s work when MIMA reopens following the Covid-19 lockdown. Boyce built an archive of material through public contributions; pasted wallpaper gathers the names of 200 black female musicians into a patchwork of small drawings. Leaning against the walls, a series of placards also display ephemera, selected from a wider archive held by Boyce, relating to the named artists.
Sonia Boyce, artist, said: “I am delighted that The Devotional Wallpaper and Placards has found the perfect home with Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA). The socially-engaged nature of the Devotional series and MIMA’s ongoing commitment as an open museum in dialogue with a wide community of art-lovers, makes this a fantastic match.”
Elinor Morgan, Head of Programme at MIMA, part of Teesside University adds: “Sonia Boyce’s Devotional Wallpaper and Placards is a key work by one of Britain’s most important contemporary artists. The work will be shown as part of a large-scale exhibition by Boyce, titled In The Castle of My Skin, at MIMA in 2021. The installation offers rich stimulus for discussing relationships, visibility, memories and creativity. It proposes a space of recognition and a site for sharing memories and overlooked narratives. The installation connects with our commitment to publicly addressing cultural amnesia and to revising histories.”
The Rapid Response Fund has also supported artist Shawanda Corbett, who was last week announced as one of the recipients of the 2020 Turner Prize Bursary. The CAS has acquired a ceramic pairing called Graveyard Shift (2020) and a work on paper, Let’s play hide-n-seek (2020) for the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library in Preston. The artist’s practice combines ceramics, painting, dance and architecture. Memories of childhood and of the neighbourhood where she grew up are a starting point for the ceramic works which each take on distinct personalities.
Corbett, who was born in Mississippi, USA is currently working on a doctoral degree in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art and Wadham College, University of Oxford. The acquisition of these works will be a precursor to the museum commissioning a unique performance work for the local community in Preston.
Tim Joel, Head of Culture at the Harris, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our application to the Contemporary Art Society’s Rapid Response Fund. When we re-open our galleries later this summer we will not only be reflecting on the impact of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement with our local communities – but also testing new ideas and objects for our major redevelopment project Harris Your Place. The ceramics and drawings by Shawanda Corbett will go on immediate display and be used as fulcrums around which we explore ideas relating to memory, community and creativity with our visitors. Corbett’s work is hugely inspirational and, when it is completely safe to do so, we hope to invite the artist to Preston to perform so we can showcase the full range of her artistic practice.”
Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society, said: “the works acquired in this round of awards through the Rapid Response Fund reflect some sustained relationships between artists and museums, as well as opportunities taken to form new ones. In every case the works enter thoughtfully considered contexts, where they will be a dynamic part of reopening programmes.”
Eva Langret, Artistic Director, Frieze London said: “The works acquired in the latest round of funding, explore some of the most urgent topics of our times and highlight the vibrancy and diversity of the UK visual arts scene. Every work relates to the context of each institution, its history, its location or existing collection, highlighting possibilities for powerful, meaningful connections between objects, institutions and audiences.”
The Hepworth Wakefield will be receiving a body of work by St Ives-based Rosanne Robertson (they/them): a video called Packing, 2020, a pair of Jesmonite sculptures entitled Between Two Bodies, 2020 and a work on paper, The Island, 2020. Robertson has been long interested in Hepworth’s connection to the landscape and this significant acquisition queers the legacies of modernism and creates a statement of intent for the gallery as it reaches out to broader audiences. The works will appear in the opening gallery of their first exhibition post-lockdown November 2020 to May 2021.
The Hunterian, Glasgow
The current crisis has left many people with a greater awareness of – and longing for – the natural world. The Hunterian will be receiving a feature-length ‘avant-garde nature film for children’ by Glasgow-based artist Margaret Salmon called Eglantine, 2016. Perhaps her key work to date, the film will resonate with the museum’s historic landscape collection and bring the natural world to those who might not otherwise be able to access it in the year that the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is hosted in Glasgow.
The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
Mike Silva is a London-based painter, whose portrait subjects are invariably friends and lovers. He works from his own photographs, sometimes going back to images taken many years before: “Memory and longing is something we project onto an image. The photographic image is rooted in the time and place that it was taken – it is fixed to that specific moment. Whereas a painting can appear to always seem in the present, because it’s been divorced from the exact point in time it originally refers to; it has a more universal quality.” Silva approaches portraiture and the depiction of domestic interiors with the same quality of intimacy and tenderness, capturing the textures of daily life. His portraits of black men are a reflection of his life in London, meditations on masculinity and the passage of time. Through the Rapid Response Fund the CAS has acquired three paintings – two still lifes and a portrait – for the Laing in Newcastle that reflect the spectrum of Silva’s practice.
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton
The CAS has bought 12 ceramic and tapestry works by Matt Smith, which will form a central focus for the displays at Hove Museum when it reopens. Much of Matt Smith’s work explores and comments on marginalised history and it will form a key inspiration for activity sessions as the museum expands its work with groups with varied critical social needs.
These six acquisitions build on an initial three announced at the beginning of June – a commission from Eleanor Lakelin for Reading Museum, a room-size body of work by Liverpool’s Granby Workshop for the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool and three works by Glasgow-born artist Rabiya Choudhry for GoMA in Glasgow.
The CAS Rapid Response Fund, in partnership with Frieze London, is a response to the Covid-19 pandemic to support both artists and museums across the UK. Museums which are members of the Contemporary Art Society are invited to apply to buy art and craft that will support their civic role when they reopen after the lockdown is lifted.
The fund is designed to support as many different artists and local museums as possible, based on the understanding that our museums will play a vital role in our communities as we exit the crisis. The money raised purchases artworks by British-based artists, providing financial support to artists, technicians and art handlers, many of whom work on a freelance basis and have seen their income streams decimated over recent weeks, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The CAS Rapid Response Fund also ensures that when museums reopen, they are able to reach out to their communities through new acquisitions, playing a vital role in civic healing and mental wellbeing.
The fund has raised £234,000, which will support over 20 acquisitions. £109,000 was raised through the generosity of CAS Patrons and a further £125,000 was raised through the CAS’s first crowdfunding campaign, which closed on 10 June 2020. People who donated £35 received a limited-edition facemask designed by top artists – David Shrigley, Eddie Peake, Linder and Yinka Shonibare. £120 bought a pack of all four.
The Contemporary Art Society’s partnership with Frieze London allows the campaign to reach even more art lovers and collectors, both attendees to the art fairs and readers of the magazines.
Rapid Response Fund applications are reviewed by the 2020 CAS Acquisitions Advisory Committee, an external panel chaired by Caroline Douglas, Director of the CAS, consisting of leading curators, writers and artists (full committee list in notes to editors). Further purchases will be announced at the beginning of each month.