Your support in action – winter round-up 2023
From a snowy scene to a towering public sculpture in the heart of Leeds, discover some of the art we've been able to help museums acquire and commission recently thanks to the support of Art Fund members and donors.
Our winter round-up features some stunning works of art that museums across the UK have been able to add to their collections recently, with the support of funding from Art Fund.
Plus, we spotlight a new public sculpture by leading contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare which has just been unveiled in Leeds, and was commissioned with Art Fund support.
Want to see more? In Art Quarterly, our exclusive magazine for Art Fund members, we publish details of every work of art we've helped museums to buy and share with the public, thanks to the vital support of our members and donors.
And don't forget, you'll get great benefits at lots of these venues when you visit with a National Art Pass.
A snowy scene by a local artist
In the mid-1920s, there was an influx of artists to Great Bardfield in Essex, among them Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious and Tirzah Garwood. They have been compared to the Bloomsbury Group, similarly escaping the hustle and bustle of London for a quieter life.
A Snowy Day, High Street, Great Bardfield, Essex (pictured above) is a wintery scene by Bawden of the village’s snow-covered high street. Villagers are passing through, catching up with neighbours, and one man is clearing the heavy snowfall with a shovel into a wheelbarrow. They're all wrapped up in coats and hats to fend off the cold.
With Art Fund support, the work has been acquired by Saffron Walden’s Fry Art Gallery, joining their collection with strong holdings of work by the artists who lived in northwest Essex during the early and mid-20th century.
A portrait series spotlighting Suffolk's Black community
John Ferguson’s photographic portrait series Black Suffolk captures Suffolk’s Black community. Produced in partnership with Aspire Black Suffolk, a community-interest company offering diversity and inclusion training and support for local cultural programmes, Ferguson’s project explores the theme of home and what it means for this diverse community living in Suffolk.
His subjects are wide-ranging, including a former Premier League footballer, a schoolgirl, a man who moved to England from Guyana as part of the Windrush generation, a BBC radio presenter and Ipswich’s first Black mayor.
Black Suffolk joins the collection at Ipswich Museum, of which Christchurch Mansion is one of three venues. The collection includes work by Suffolk artists from the 16th century to the present day. With Art Fund’s support, this acquisition marks an important step in increasing the diversity of artists and subjects represented in the collection.
A Victorian masterpiece returned to its home
In My Studio by prominent Victorian painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema is the latest work from Frederic Leighton’s art collection to return to its original location in the Silk Room in Leighton’s house, now the Leighton House museum. Both friends and notable artists of the time, Tadema traded his painting for Leighton’s The Bath of Psyche in 1893, which he hung in his St John’s Wood house. Following Leighton’s death in 1896, his collection, including In My Studio, was sold and dispersed.
The painting depicts the piano alcove in Tadema’s studio, with its opulent golden step and onyx windows. A woman dressed in classical costume smells a vase of roses placed on top of the piano, which has been dressed in a luxurious red and gold detailed textile. The decadent interior design is an important record of the lavish Victorian studio houses that both Tadema and Leighton built and occupied.
You can now see In My Studio on permanent display in the same spot where Leighton originally hung it at Leighton House, alongside other works in the ongoing project to return the artist’s collection to the museum. These include A Vase of Dahlias by Albert Moore, acquired with Art Fund support in 2020.
A public sculpture for the local community
Now on display in Leeds, Yinka Shonibare's Hibiscus Rising is a major new public sculpture for the city supported by Art Fund, commissioned by the David Oluwale Memorial Association and Leeds 2023: Year of Culture to honour the life of David Oluwale. Oluwale was tormented and beaten by police officers before tragically drowning in the River Aire in 1969.
Hibiscus Rising is a 9.5-metre recreation of a hibiscus flower, a plant common in Nigeria, where Shonibare grew up and where Oluwale was born before moving to Britain. Shonibare has embellished the sculpture with multicoloured designs inspired by batik patterns in a nod to African identity and cultural heritage. It was also inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise, which explores overcoming adversity in the face of racism. The resulting artwork has created a public space in the city where the local community can come together, to grow and to heal.
This commission was made possible by a successful Art Happens campaign.