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Hirst and Hockney Now Here

17 October 2005

Hirst and Hockney Now Here

Art lovers in New Zealand can now access one of the largest collections of British modern and contemporary art online.

The Collection, owned by the British Council, comprises over 8,000 unique works by British artists. It has never before been seen in its entirety as over 80% of the Collection is exhibited overseas at any one time.

The online exhibition, not only features images of works but also information on artists, movements and exhibitions. An interactive function allows users to curate personal exhibitions from the Collection. The website has also been developed for educational purposes worldwide and is a resource for cultural history.

The British Council started acquiring art in the late 30s to promote the work of British contemporary artists overseas. It has consistently supported young artists at an early stage in their careers, acquiring important works by Lucian Freud, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread, Gilbert and George, Damien Hirst, Douglas Gordon, Chris Ofili and Tracey Emin, among others.

In recognition of the work undertaken by the Council in promoting their international careers, many artists have donated or sold works to the Council at cost. One of the largest gifts was donated by Henry Moore in 1984, when he gave 250 works to the Collection to mark the Council's 50th anniversary. The Collection has matured substantially in value and has a permanent home in a purpose-built secure store in West London.

The Collection is one of the British Council's most hard-working assets. New exhibitions drawn from the Collection are produced annually by the Council's Visual Arts Department for overseas touring, accompanied by fully illustrated catalogues and education programmes. Exhibitions of the collection are frequently shown in parts of the world where it would be difficult to secure works on loan from other collectors.

Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts for the British Council said, 'The Collection has sometimes been likened to a Rolls Royce, due to its innate quality. But in fact it is much more like a land rover, able to travel wherever it is needed, and equally at home whether in Almaty or Abuja, Beijing or Brussels. The visual arts have been one the extraordinary success stories of post-war Britain, and there is an ever-growing demand from audiences overseas to see it. Having our own collection enables us to show work round the world at first hand, to deliver it quickly, and to ensure that audiences around the world have access to the best '.

Visit the British Council Online Exhibition -


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