Art you’ve helped support: August highlights
Every month we spotlight a few works of art that we've been able to fund recently, thanks to your support. Here's this month's picks – from a collection of hand-painted ceramic eggs to an immersive installation.
It’s thanks to Art Fund members and donors that we're able to support museums across the UK, helping them to buy and share works of art and get exciting new projects off the ground.
This month, we’re highlighting three stunning works that are all underpinned by powerful storytelling. From a disturbing portrait based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe to a ceramic egg display inspired by the tale of a thief, these works demonstrate how great art can be born from stories real and imagined.
Take a look below. And don’t forget, you’ll get great benefits when you visit museums you’ve supported with a National Art Pass.
The story of an egg thief
This beautiful collection of hand-painted eggs titled How the Artist Was Led to the Study of Nature is by contemporary artist Andy Holden. The display is a recreation of an illegal egg collection assembled by Richard Pearson, a painter and decorator who served 23 weeks in prison for stealing the eggs belonging to birds including golden eagles, ospreys and falcons.
The real eggs were destroyed in 2006 – Holden has meticulously recreated the entire hoard from police photos, including replicating the tins and boxes the eggs were found in. The eggs have been made specially by ceramicist Peter Rowland.
The work will be shared between Leeds Art Gallery and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, both of which hosted Holden's touring exhibition Natural Selection in 2018 and 2019, which included this fascinating work.
The story of an obsession
The title of this powerful painting by modern painter Henri Martin appears to refer to the gruesome story Bérénice by Edgar Allan Poe. In the story, Egaeus wakes up to discover the teeth of his cousin Bérénice in a box, having become obsessed with her and removing them from her grave in a trance.
Inspired by the powerful symbolism in this story, the portrait nods to Martin’s early interest in the symbolist movement as a whole. He was known to be an avid reader of symbolist poetry by the likes of Baudelaire and Verlaine, as well as the writings of Poe.
This haunting work joins an outstanding collection of 19th-century French paintings at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.
The story of a deteriorating world
Titled In Search of Vanished Blood, this installation by contemporary artist Nalini Malani is inspired by the 1983 novel by Christa Wolf, Cassandra. In the book, Cassandra tells the story of a deteriorating world, offering a way out of darkness that requires learning from the cruelties of the past.
The work involves six synchronised films manipulated through a projector, resulting in a 360-degree shadow play that consumes the whole room. Inspired by Wolf’s story, Malani explores powerful themes including the curse of prophecy and the failure of communication.
This stunning immersive work has found a home in the Tate collection, where it will have a major impact on Tate's holdings of work by South Asian artists.
Pictured top: Nalini Malani, In Search of Vanished Blood (installation view at ICA Boston, 2016), 2012, Tate, Art Funded 2022, © Nalini Malani.
Descriptions of objects featured in this article are based on content compiled by Marcus Field for Art Quarterly magazine, where you can find out more about works of art you've helped support.