Graham Young discovers an extraordinary collection of art gathered from government buildings around the world.
Birmingham's latest major art exhibition has opened - and it's guaranteed to give you the feeling that you are being watched.
Not by CCTV snoopers in the modern era.
But by the subjects in the paintings themselves.
Revealed: Government Art Collection is a selection of extraordinary paintings and art works that have been sourced from government buildings around the world.
As such, they are used to hanging in the kind of places where they, and only they, can 'eavesdrop' on world leaders.
If they could talk, you feel, they wouldn't half have some stories to tell.
Best of all, the collection is a real mixture of styles, colours and textures.
There really is something for everyone and, compared to a 'standard' art gallery, Revealed is quite likely to have much greater appeal for children than you might imagine.
Unusually for an exhibition on this scale in the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, it is also free.
The accompanying booklet shows many of the pieces in the background, with famous faces in front of them.
They include former Prime Ministers such as Harold Wilson (lighting up!), Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as current incumbent David Cameron.
There's also Barrack Obama and Condoleeza Rice.
All are said to have helped with the process of diplomacy, relaxing the atmosphere between ministers and diplomats and their office visitors.
Some of the paintings have direct links with Birmingham.
They include Peter's 1 (2007), a painting by Hurvin Anderson, born in the city to Jamaican parents. It's inclusion was selected by Simon Schama.
City-born Gillian Wearing's The Garden (1997) is a screenprint of a group of four young women (including the artist herself) standing in an ordinary suburban garden.
Barrie Cook was head of fine art at the then Birmingham Polytechnic from 1979-832 and his No 2 Untitled (1976) painting characteristically creates a series of blurred images based on geometric shapes and patterns.
The central hall of the exhibition is a display collectively called Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain, curated by leading British artist Cornelia Parker OBE
The room moves from blue to orange, yellow, green and red to black and white.
The effect is tremendous, whether you are interested in No 10 Downing Street's 1598 painting of Queen Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561-1635), or Andy Warhol's original screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II.
Made in 1985, it usually resides at the British Consul-General's Residence, New York.
A Turner Prize nominee with an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham, Cornelia says: "It's such an exciting way to do it like this and I love the idea of having colours running through.
"The works have been sourced from all over the world and will never be seen together again in this way."
* Revealed Government Art Collection runs until February 24, 2013 in the Gas Hall, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH. Website: www.bmag.org.uk. Tel: 0121 303 1966