Jeremy Deller: English Magic
12 April – 21 September 2014
Created for the British Pavilion in Venice, the Turner's Prize winning artist's English Magic heads to Bristol as part of the Art Fund supported tour.
English Magic on tour
- 1 June – 24 November 2013: British Pavilion, Venice Biennale
18 January – 30 March 2014: William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Walthamstow Forest
12 April – 21 September 2014: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
11 October 2014 – 11 January 2015: Turner Contemporary, Margate
Some 350,000 people went to see Jeremy Deller's Venice Biennale exhibition on display at the Giardini, in which the artist casts his critical eye over contemporary life in England. Seamlessly drifting between William Morris and the Iraq War, David Bowie and birds of prey, Tony Blair and tax evasion, it is both challenging and celebratory in its attempts to get to grips with the complexities of English national identity.
This is first time that the British commission for the Biennale has returned to tour British shores and, following its successful showing at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, it now takes up residence in Bristol. Deller is working with each venue in the tour to find new ways of presenting the exhibition that are specific to that particular space.
Here, the artist has picked out paintings capturing the Bristol Riots of 1831 and items of taxidermy from the museum's Natural History collections to complement his own murals, videos and installations.
Jeremy Deller’s English Magic was commissioned by the British Council for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2013. The UK tour of the exhibition is supported by the Art Fund.
If one piece were to epitomise the display it would be We sit starving amidst our gold, where Victorian designer and socialist William Morris is pictured as a colossus, hurling Roman Abramovich’s yacht Luna into the Venetian lagoon.
Luna was infamously once docked outside the Biennale pavilions with a security fence erected around it which restricted the view and use of the promenade for locals, tourists and visitors to the festival. A wry commentary on consumer culture, privilege and social inequality the mural is unmistakably Deller - powerful, humorous and unafraid to be controversial.