The Art Fund helps Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales acquire new artwork for new galleries

  • 11 November 2008

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales has acquired three new artworks by international artists Eija-Liisa Ahtila, James Turrell and Betty Woodman thanks to the support of The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity. These works will form part of the Museum's largely unseen contemporary art collection, soon to be revealed in National Museum Cardiff's transformed west wing.

This year, The Art Fund, gave £100,000 to the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to help buy these important works. The Art Fund also gave the museum £25,000 towards a 19th century sculptural panel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones which will form a part of its Victorian displays. Over the last ten years, The Art Fund has given over £1.2 million to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to help them acquire artwork by such eminent artists as Alfred Sisley, David Hockney and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s video installation, The Hour of Prayer and Raethro Pink by the American James Turrell will both be exhibited in due course in newly developed, high quality, flexible galleries at National Museum Cardiff. Work is currently being carried out to transform the building’s west wing, which will provide six times more space for art post-1950 at the Museum. This is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ drive to develop the presentation of Wales’ art collection.

Purchased with additional support from the Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize, The Hour of Prayer is a four channel projected installation. The work explores themes central to Ahtila’s work as a filmmaker, in particular the way we understand and give meaning to states of dream, reality, and imagination. First shown at the 2005 Venice Biennial, The Hour of Prayer was selected for the international exhibition Artes Mundi II at National Museum Cardiff where Ahtila was awarded the Artes Mundi Prize. It will be a key work in Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales’ collection of work in lens-based media.

James Turrell’s Raethro Pink is one of his early projection works, and is formed by light projected into a corner of a room from a modified quartz halogen projector to give the impression of a luminous three-dimensional pyramid hovering in the darkness. His projection pieces have been described as ‘physically simple but psychologically haunting.’ This work is a major addition to the Museum’s growing body of international contemporary art and was acquired with extra funding from the Bilstone Foundation and Derek Williams Trust.

Painted and lacquered earthenware vases by Betty Woodman are also a new addition to the Museum’s collections thanks to The Art Fund and the Derek Williams Trust. Diptych: The Balcony is already on display as part of the Museum’s extensive and changing displays of ceramics and other applied art. Evocative of Mediterranean gardens, the two vases in the work embody the free-spirited inventiveness that has made Betty Woodman one of the most respected of American ceramic artists. She has been aptly described as ‘an extravagant potter.’

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said:

“I’m delighted The Art Fund has helped Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales acquire three new works by distinguished international artists Eija-Liisa Ahtila, James Turrell and Betty Woodman. Their work will complement the Museum’s already impressive British contemporary art collection, which includes work by David Hockney, Frank Auerbach and Richard Deacon – all of whose work has been acquired with the help of The Art Fund. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is a great institution and their plans to re-display their extensive post-1950 art collection will make it an even bigger draw.”

With only £450,000 of an overall total of £4 million left to source to complete the exciting initiative for art in Wales, it is hoped the full range of the Museum’s art collection will be shown as an integrated display by summer 2011.

National Museum Cardiff is one of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’s seven national museums. The others are St Fagans: National History Museum, the National Roman Legionary Museum, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum.

Entry to each Museum is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.


For further information, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer on 029 2057 3185 / 07920 027067 or email or Sian Thomas, Head of Marketing and Media on 029 2057 3176 / 07970 015587 or email

Notes to Editors:

The Art Fund

Since 1928, The Art Fund has given almost £2.3 million in grants (over £1.2 million in the last decade) to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and helped them acquire 680 objects including artworks by William Hogarth, Canaletto, David Hockney, Alfred Sisley, John Constable, Edward Lear, Richard Deacon, Frank Auerbach, Adam Pynacker, Thomas Girtin, Jan van de Cappelle, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Stanley Spencer and Nicolas Poussin.

The Art Fund offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; it campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit