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New Acquisitions

This original montage by Peter Kennard features Margaret Thatcher and was first published as a New Statesman cover in 1985. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Acquired with the assistance of the Art Fund.

In March we received the latest artworks acquired for the Peace and Reconciliation collection which is funded through the HLF Collecting Cultures programme. This included a collection of works by Peter Kennard and collaborative works by Peter and Cat Picton-Phillipps.

Peter’s work is a powerful response to social and political events around him. It is often based around his wish to express anger and outrage but also inspire positive action and protest. In the 1970s Peter moved away from painting to photomontage which he felt to be a more powerful response to the Vietnam War. His recent works with Cat Picton-Phillips were created in response to the Iraq War and include digital collage.

Peter manipulates familiar symbols and images to force the viewer to ‘see’ the horror and impact of national and international events. This is often combined with humour and sadness. His images have been used on banners and T-shirts and in newspapers and magazines, as part of CND and Labour Party campaigns as well as shown in gallery spaces. He has been exhibiting since the 1970s and his work is held in The Arts Council Collection, Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

We are exploring working with Peter and Cat as part of an exhibition of the Peace and Reconciliation collection in 2012. This might include a solo display of their work within the exhibition and recreating their studio at the Herbert to explore their methods and practice.

Other new acquisitions have included poster works by Michael Peel, also created as a form of protest for display on the streets, and works from the Roaring Girls series by Al Johnson. These sculptures of guns are based on real weapons, but stitched from scarlet textiles and explore the involvement of women in warfare.

Jamal Penjweny, Iraq is Flying, No.7. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We have also been able to acquire three photographic works from the Iraq is Flying series by Jamal Penjweny, which featured in the Contemporary Art Iraq exhibition at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2010. The works were made during the artists travels throughout Iraq. Photographing a diverse range of people in very different locations, he asked them all to jump for the camera. There are obvious signs of conflict in the images but they also convey a feeling of joy and hope.




Belsen Head by Raymond Mayson © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010.

The Herbert has recently acquired two new art works as part of its permanent collection. The purchase of these artworks has been supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Collecting Cultures scheme. The Collecting Cultures scheme has allowed galleries all over the country to apply for grants of up to £200,000 to strategically enhance their collections in a specific field. The purchases have also been supported through grants from membership charity the Art Fund, who gave £24,000 in total towards the two works, and MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, who gave a total of £4,000.   

The two works are Belsen Head by Raymond Mason and Bloodlines by Iftikhar Dadi and Nalini Malani. Both works explore the impact of conflict, violence and division. These artworks are part of the gallery’s ongoing work towards developing collections which explore Coventry’s important links with themes of conflict, peace and reconciliation.  Natalie Heidaripour, Project Officer for the Herbert’s Peace and Reconciliation Gallery has been working hard to find two works that are not only visually striking but represent a theme close to the heart of the city. She has shared some thoughts on both pieces of work:   

‘Bloodlines is a visually stunning artwork of intricate detail developed by Indian artist Nalini Malani and Pakistani artist Iftikhar Dadi. It is possibly the first collaborative work between artists from the two countries. It was created in 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of the partition of India. Using gold, crimson and blue sequins the panels map the Radcliffe lines, which defined the 1947 borders of Pakistan.  

Bloodlines has been made with thousands of sequins.

The partition of India is of key importance in British history and to communities living in Coventry, but is not currently represented in the visual arts collection. This artwork will address this in a meaningful way. Although specifically referring to the partition of India the work also has a much wider resonance, exploring the human impact of colonialism, civil conflict and division.’ 

‘Belsen Head by Raymond Mason was created in response to images released from the concentration camps at the end of the Second World War. The head lying back on a wooden plinth is seemingly screaming in pain or protest. The link to the now familiar images from the camps can be seen; however this work has a continuing resonance, reflecting the universal impact of hate and violence. This sculpture is a captivating work which has a powerful and moving effect on those who view it.’   

These works will be displayed in an exhibition in 2012 which will highlight new items bought through the HLF Collecting Cultures project which has benefitted many galleries across the country.

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