Ryan Gander switches the roles of the spectator and the spectacle as he brings this Arts Council Collection touring exhibition Night in the Museum to Birmingham this month, giving visitors the chance to view artworks from the Collection from a new perspective. This exhibition is part of the three-year Arts Council Collection National Partners’ Programme.
Night in the Museum, opening in the Gas Hall at BMAG on Saturday 26th November, offers a unique view of the Arts Council Collection in its 70th year and provides an opportunity to view this internationally significant collection through the eyes of one of the country’s most important artists. The Arts Council Collection includes nearly 8,000 works of British art in a range of media. The majority of these were acquired from early career UK-based artists over the past 70 years.
Ryan Gander has taken on the role of curator and positioned figurative sculptures in such a way that they appear to gaze at other exhibited works featuring the colour blue; an important colour in Gander’s work, and which for him represents the abstract ideas often found in modern and contemporary art.
Ryan Gander said: “There is something about switching the roles of the spectator and the spectacle that is fascinating. When I look at sculptures of the human figure I am frequently left thinking of all the things that they’ve seen.”
Jill Constantine, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: "Ryan Gander is one of the most exciting and innovative artists working in the UK today and we are delighted that he has curated such an imaginative and enjoyable touring exhibition from the Arts Council Collection. This visually stunning exhibition introduces us to completely unexpected ways of looking at contemporary art and I am delighted these Collection works will be enjoyed by many visitors across the country as it continues its tour".
The exhibition brings together over 30 works from the Arts Council Collection by artists such as Roger Hiorns, Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore. The touring show, which was on display at Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park earlier this year, will be expanded for the Birmingham audience with the addition of well-known pieces from Birmingham’s collection. Additions include a reconstruction of Jacob Epstein’s famous ‘Rock Drill’, artworks by Sean Scully and Patrick Caulfield and ‘Dancer at Rest’, an original bronze ballerina by Edgar Degas on long-term loan which complements Gander’s fascination with Degas’ dancers.
As part of his Degas’ dancer series, Ryan’s commission for the Arts Council Collection, As old as time itself, slept alone (2016), will also be on display. Gander has re-imagined Degas’ The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer (1880-81) in different scenarios, always paired with a blue cube and a white plinth, representing contemporary art and the art institution or museum.
Night in the Museum is the first show in a three year partnership programme marking the Arts Council Collection’s 70th anniversary. Birmingham Museums is one of only four venues chosen by Arts Council Collection, alongside The Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool; Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Ryan Gander said: “I love Birmingham, it's a great art city, centred on the periphery, full of energy and drive. We have a long relationship, having taught at Bournville and shown at Ikon, so it's a great privilege for me to have the opportunity to bring this Arts Council Collection Show, Night in the Museum, to Gas Hall.”
Gander has achieved international recognition for a prolific and diverse body of work embracing a vast range of media, from sculpture and installation, to books and games, even the creation of a unique range of sportswear and an attempt to introduce a new word.
Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “Night in the museum marks the beginning of our major new programme of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, bringing the Arts Council’s fabulous collection to Birmingham’s young and diverse audiences. Ryan Gander has curated the first of these exhibitions, creating inventive pairings and juxtapositions between objects from the city’s collection as well as the Arts Council’s. We hope these unexpected perspectives will attract and entertain new as well as regular visitors to this Gas Hall show.”
BMAG is opening its doors after hours on Friday 25th November for chance to hear from Ryan Gander in conversation as discusses his exhibition and elements of his practice and his experience working with the Arts Council Collection. Guests will also be able to have a drink and look around the exhibition before it opens. Tickets are free but should be pre-booked at birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/ryan-gander-in-conversation
On Saturday 3rd December BMAG will also be hosting a magical evening giving guests the chance to view the exhibition with live blues music from Christina Shergold and a glass of bubbles from award-winning English wine maker, Three Choirs Vineyard Newent. The museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art, Lisa Beauchamp, will also be on-hand during the event to answer questions about the exhibition. Tickets cost £10 and must be pre-booked at eventbrite.co.uk/e/art-lates-bubbles-blues-tickets-27985023960?aff=BMAG
Garth Evans Blue No. 30 (1964) and Kerry Stewart Untitled (Lucy) (1996), Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London ©the artists 2016. Photo: Anna Arca.
David Batchelor I Love King's Cross and King's Cross Loves Me, 5 (2001) and Uli Nimptsch Seated Figure (1951), Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London ©the artists 2016. Photo: Anna Arca.
Ryan Gander, As old as time itself, slept alone (2016). A 70th Anniversary Commission for the Arts Council Collection ©the artist 2016. Photo: Anna Arca.
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About Birmingham Museums Trust
Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 800,000 objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities that deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city. Most areas of the collection are designated as being of national importance, including the finest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. Attracting over one million visits a year, the Trust’s venues include Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. birminghammuseums.org.uk
About Arts Council Collection
The Arts Council Collection is a national collection of British art from 1946 to the present day and holds nearly 8,000 works which are available for loan to spaces across the UK. With more than 1,000 loans made to over 100 venues a year, it is seen by millions of people annually in public spaces from galleries and museums to hospitals, libraries and universities. Representing one of the most important collections of British modern and contemporary art in the world, it includes work from Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore to Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry. The Collection supports and promotes British art and British artists by buying art when they are in the early stages of their career, and continues to acquire new work and support emerging artists. The Arts Council Collection is managed by Southbank Centre, London and the Sculpture Centre is located at Longside in Yorkshire Sculpture Park. artscouncilcollection.org.uk
About National Partner Exhibitions
To mark the Arts Council Collections 70th anniversary, Arts Council England has invested £1.8 million in a network of four National Partner museums and galleries across England, which will deepen the Collection’s longstanding relationship with four key museums and galleries around the country: the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne; Birmingham Museums Trust; and The Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool; and the Collection’s existing partner, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The partners will provide a year round home for art works within the collection, hosting a special programme of 24 National Partner exhibitions between April 2016 and March 2019.
About Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artisitic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support 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 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the national lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. artscouncil.org.uk
About Southbank Centre
Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk. Southbank Centre is carrying out vital restoration work on the Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room to make the buildings fit for future generations to enjoy, more information can be found here: letthelightin.southbankcentre.co.uk.
About Ryan Gander
Ryan Gander is a cultural magpie in the widest sense, polymathically taking popular notions apart only to rebuild them in new ways. Language and storytelling play an overarching role in his work, not least in his series of Loose Association lectures or in his attempt to slip a nonsensical, palindromic new word, ‘mitim’, into the English language. Invitation and collaboration are also at the heart of Gander’s fugitive art – whether he’s exchanging fictionalized newspaper obituaries with an artist-friend or taking pictures of people looking at pictures at an art fair – although arguably every solipsistic action he takes merely holds up yet another mirror to his ceaselessly voracious mind. Ryan Gander was born in Chester in 1976 and works in London. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at venues including Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Belgium and Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal (2016); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore and Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2015); Manchester Art Gallery and Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2010); Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008); MUMOK, Vienna (2007) and the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2007). Gander has been the recipient of various prizes, such as the Zürich Art Prize (2009), the ABN Amro Art Price (2006), the Baloise Art Statements of the Art Basel (2006) and the Dutch Prix de Rome for sculpture (2003), and has participated in several group exhibitions including the British Art Show 8 and Performa, New York, 2015.