Art from Wales and the Midlands to be showcased around the world

Works of art by contemporary artists from Wales and across the Midlands are to be displayed in embassies and government buildings around the world

  • Government Art Collection acquires more than 30 new pieces of art
  • Artists include Jason Wilsher-Mills, Marlene Smith and Iwan Lewis
  • Part of Art X-UK programme to collect works by exciting British artists for display in more than 125 countries

Works of art by contemporary artists from Wales and across the Midlands are to be displayed in embassies and government buildings around the world.

More than 30 new pieces have been acquired by the Government Art Collection (GAC) this year as the first instalment of a five-year drive to ensure it reflects creative talent from across the entirety of the UK.

The new works showcase the diversity of talent in Wales and the Midlands, including the work of Jason Wilsher-Mills from Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

Wilsher-Mills uses digital technologies such as iPads and Wacom tablets to allow him to produce large-scale detailed paintings, despite the physical challenges he faces living with chronic polyneuropathy.

He is well-known for leading community projects and has worked collaboratively with thousands of children and adults around the country to produce his work.

GAC has acquired two photographic pieces from Birmingham’s Marlene Smith and is discussing the acquisition of work from Keith Piper. Both are founder members of the Blk Art Group in Wolverhampton in 1979.

It has also collected prints by Farwa Moledina, who is based in Birmingham, which explore Muslim identities by creating rich patterns that often take the form of large, cloth-based installations.

One of the Welsh artists to be showcased is Iwan Lewis whose paintings draw on his experience of moving back to Ynys Môn, the island of Anglesey, North Wales, after living in London for 10 years. His work explores the history and mythology of these ancient landscapes as well as the impact of tourists to the region.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

"We benefit from an incredible breadth of artistic talent in this country, and I’m delighted that more works from Wales and the Midlands are being added to the Government Art Collection as part of our drive to include the work of talented artists from every part of the UK.

"Being in the Government Art Collection means these works can be admired and enjoyed by a global audience — sharing the artistic brilliance of the UK with people all over the world."

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said:

"It’s great to see the work of Welsh artists showcased around the world in the Government Art Collection. We have a rich heritage of Welsh artists stretching back to the wonderful landscapes painted by Richard Wilson in the 18th century, to the art of Augustus and Gwen John, and into the 20th century with celebrated artists such as Kyffin Williams.

"And that tradition is being continued with our vibrant contemporary art scene in Wales. Congratulations to Manon Awst, Nigel Hurlstone and Iwan Lewis whose work will now be seen by a new diverse global audience."

Last year, GAC, which is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), launched a five-year acquisitions programme to procure works from exciting talent and showcase the best of British creativity – promoting further interest in the country’s globally renowned creative sector.

The Art X-UK project initially ran as a successful pilot scheme in 2020–21 when more than 90 pieces by 45 contemporary visual artists were acquired for the Collection.

These works are now on display in government buildings around the country and internationally in British embassies and residences including Paris, Ankara, The Holy See in Rome, and 10 Downing Street.

Later this year GAC will work with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network in the North East of England and the Scottish Contemporary Art Network to identify more talented artists from these regions to be featured in the Collection.

Paula Orrell, CVAN England, National Director said:

"CVAN is delighted to be working with the Government Art Collection over the next five years. Art X-UK is a significant opportunity to support the profile of artists across England. Our networks are especially concerned with putting forward artists that perhaps curators may have yet to encounter."

Marlene Smith, artist said:

"It means a great deal to me to have these works, which celebrate my Windrush-era parents, enter such an important collection for the nation."

Farwa Moledina, artist said:

"I’m really delighted to be part of such a respected and recognised collection, and to represent Britain’s Muslim population through my work."

Department for Culture, Media and Sport