For over 100 years, the Government Art Collection has acquired paintings, sculptures and work in other media to promote British art and artists. Usually on display in more than 400 locations all over the globe, works from the Collection are now being shown here for the first time in a public art gallery.
Owned by the British public, the Government Art Collection exhibits historical and contemporary art to visitors to government buildings in the UK and most capital cities of the world. At Work is a selection from these embassies and government departments that showcases the diverse nature of the Collection, its locations and function. Highlights include a 16th-Century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, formerly on display in the Ministry of Justice; the modern masterpiece Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook by Mancunian artist L.S. Lowry, recently shown at 10 Downing Street; and Derek Boshier’s 1962 contribution to British Pop Art, I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race – previously installed at the British Embassy in Moscow.
The exhibition is curated by the Government Art Collection in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery. The selectors who have chosen works are: Lord Boateng, former Government Minister and British High Commissioner to South Africa; the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Lord Mandelson, former Business Secretary; Dame Anne Pringle, British Ambassador to Moscow; Sir John Sawers, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service; and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.
The first in a series of five displays, At Work is part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s on going programme opening up important public and private collections for everyone.
Image: L S Lowry. Lancashire Fair. Good Friday. Daisy Nook . 1946. Oil on canvas; 72 x 92 cm © The Estate of L S Lowry, 2010/courtesy of the UK Government Art Collection