Artworks by four West Midlands-based artists have been bought by the biggest loan collection of contemporary British art in the UK.
After being spotted at galleries and studios in Birmingham, work by Barbara Walker, Stuart Whipps, Chris Clinton and Lucy Hutchinson is the latest to be purchased by the Arts Council Collection’s Acquisitions Committee in 2013/14 to become part of the UK’s biggest touring collection of contemporary British art alongside world-famous pieces such as Grayson Perry’s Lamentation.
The work of Hockley-based painter and illustrator Barbara Walker has been exhibited in the UK and internationally in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. Her oil painting entitled Boundary I has been acquired for the collection.
Photographer Stuart Whipps, whose work has also been shown throughout the UK and internationally in China, France, Portugal, South Africa and Spain, is based at a studio at Grand Union in Digbeth.
He often creates images which depict the aftermath of change. His digital photographic print, A Fragment of Birmingham Central Library 2013, has been purchased for the collection.
Since its creation in 1946, the Arts Council Collection has established a tradition of buying work by up-and-coming artists, many of whom have gone on to achieve critical acclaim, including Francis Bacon, Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Chris Clinton and Lucy Hutchinson are recent graduates from Birmingham City University and Coventry University.
After completing his MA in Fine Art in 2011, Mr Clinton’s work was shown in the first New Art West Midlands exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2013.
He has since gone on to hold a solo show at the New Art Gallery Walsall. Two of his reworked corkboards, entitled Spiderman and Nascar #29 Kevin Hardwick, have been selected for the collection.
Since finishing her BA in Fine Art in 2013, Ms Hutchinson’s work has featured as part of the 2014 New Art West Midlands exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Her photographic print Blonde has been acquired for the collection.
New Art West Midlands is run by Turning Point West Midlands and supported by investment from Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts programme. Investing in New Art West Midlands is one of the ways Arts Council England is supporting visual artists to pursue successful careers in the West Midlands.
Since 2013, New Art West Midlands has given students graduating from Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Staffordshire University, the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Worcester, the opportunity to exhibit their work in some of the area’s most renowned galleries, including The Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Grand Union, New Art Gallery Walsall and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
In 2013 these exhibitions were seen by more than 50,000 people.
Jill Constantine, acting head of collections, Arts Council Collection, said: “The Arts Council Collection, managed by Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, continues to support artists across the country by early and timely acquisition of their work.
“This year we have been able to buy some exceptional work by regionally based artists and I’m delighted that the breadth of practice across the country is represented in the Arts Council Collection.”
Peter Knott, area director, Arts Council England, said: “This is really fantastic news. The West Midlands is home to many talented artists and it’s brilliant to see this talent gain national recognition.
“Over the last four years Arts Council England has been working closely with Turning Point West Midlands, universities and other local organisations to invest in and develop the visual arts sector in the region.
“The successful purchase of artwork by four artists who live and work in the West Midlands is proof that this investment is yielding real returns, especially for graduates who are just beginning to forge their careers. For Chris and Lucy, being part of the Arts Council Collection will mean their work will be seen and enjoyed by people all across the UK as well as internationally.”