10 December 2013 –9 March 2014, Gallery 7.

From William Blake and John Constable to Paul Nash, this display presents visions of the English east coast from the past 200 years. It considers the influence of technology and local art schools on artists’ work and draws from the collections of Contemporary Art Society member museums and galleries in the region.

The display’s title is taken from William Blake’s The Proverbs of Hell, included in his illustrated book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (c 1789). A copy owned by poet Lord Alfred Tennyson is shown, complemented by a recording of Tennyson’s written descriptions of the Lincolnshire countryside as well as his poetry.

The display reflects a strain of British radicalism, which Blake exemplifies, and that is bound up in ideas of freedom of movement across land and the ownership of property. From the early Norwich Society of Artists (1803–1833) to the progressive Time-Based Art course in Hull during the 1990s, artists and students have looked to the local landscape to express their ideas. Peter De Wint sees it divided by landowners and industry in the 19th century, while Fran Cottell and Simon Poulter look at the privatisation of land during the Thatcher era. Their responses make a case for freedom of movement through use of medieval common land law and more recently open source ‘creative commons’ culture online.

This display is part of the Gallery’s programme to open up public and private collections and is shown in the dedicated Collections Gallery. It is made in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society and Curatorial Fellow Helen Kaplinsky, hosted by the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. This year-long series of displays is supported by a major grant from Arts Council England. The Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of collection displays is supported by specialist art insurer Hiscox.

Founded in 1910, the Contemporary Art Society has supported publicly-funded museums and galleries across the UK, through gifts, advocacy and advice.  This year-long series of displays at the Whitechapel Gallery shows works drawn from these collections, brought together from across England for the first time. Focusing on the theme of art and philanthropy, they present the unique histories of regional collections.

Notes to editors
–  For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. It is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter. The Gallery does not own a Collection, but has a dedicated gallery for opening up public and private collections, including five displays from the British Council Collection from April 2009 – May 2010; four displays from The D. Daskalopoulos Collection, Greece, from June 2010 – May 2011; five displays from the Government Art Collection, from June 2011 – September 2012 and four displays from the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo September 2012 – September 2013.
– Founded in 1910, the Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that exists to encourage an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art by a wide audience and to donate works by established and new artists to museums and public galleries across the UK. The Contemporary Art Society has donated more than 8,000 works to museums and galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK. In 2012, the organisation acquired its first ever permanent space at 59 Central Street in Clerkenwell, and launched a programme of talks, events and displays for its members and the wider public. www.contemporaryartsociety.org
– Two further displays will focus on different regions in England, including:
– The best is not too good for you, 19 March – 1 June 2014. A display drawing on the Midland’s collections of Pop Art and ceramics, with works and prints by artists such as Patrick Caulfield, Jann Haworth and Richard Hamilton alongside studio and mass produced ceramics.
–  Twixt Two Worlds, 11 June – 31 August 2014. Looking at the south of England and the development of early film and photography in Brighton and the surrounding areas alongside contemporary works which reference these experimental pioneers.
– This project is supported by a grant from Arts Council England that creates four curatorial fellowships. It also enables the displays to be toured following their presentation at the Whitechapel Gallery. A series of talks and events has been organised to support each display, along with an accompanying publication.
–  Contemporary Art Society: Damn braces: Bless relaxewill tour to mima, Middlesbrough from 11 April – 27 June 2014
–  Specialist art insurer Hiscox, a keen contemporary art collector itself, supports the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of collections displays because it gives everyone free access to important collections that would not otherwise be available to the public, and engages a diverse audience with art, particularly the local community. www.hiscox.co.uk.
– Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, it will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Visitor Information
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