No Strings: contemporary art work for Sheffield city collection

  • 27 July 2006

The Art Fund has helped Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust to make its second key contemporary purchase in the last 20 years, with a grant for Sam Taylor-Wood's magnificent Self Portrait Suspended VII.

The Art Fund gave the Trust a £12,000 grant – over half the total cost – to help buy the piece, which was acquired for £21,000. Self Portrait Suspended VII will be on display at Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, from 26 August. 

Sam Taylor-Wood is one of the UK’s leading artists of her generation. A photographer, film and video artist, she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 and currently has a solo show at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. 

Throughout her oeuvre Taylor-Wood questions the role of the individual in contemporary society. Often composed in a personal framework, she investigates universal themes and exposes extreme states of being.

Self Portrait Suspended is a series of eight works in which the artist is shown hanging in mid-air, apparently completely unsupported.  Taylor-Wood worked with a bondage expert to suspend herself from ropes, which were then digitally edited out of the picture. In Self Portrait Suspended VII, she is pictured lying horizontally, with her elegant but visibly scarred body facing the audience.

The work expresses the sense of release that the artist felt at her reprieve following treatment for breast cancer, but also the tension that she now lives with daily, following her encounter with the life-threatening disease. “Once you have had that feeling that life can change at any moment”, she says, “you can never forget it again.”

The Art Fund’s grant follows on from one last year for Marc Quinn’s Kiss; which was the first significant purchase to be made by the Trust in over 20 years.  The acquisition marked a commitment by the Trust to develop its holdings of contemporary art as a key part of its collecting strategy.

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Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust