CVAN and Art X-UK Reveal New Acquisition for Government Art Collection


Vanley Burke, Blackpool Day Trip, 1975

CVAN is continuing its partnership with the Government Art Collection, which was born out of the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will work with two to three networks a year until 2027, with each region nominating artists to be considered for acquisition, continuing to celebrate the diversity of creativity across the UK.

2022-23, the collection partnered with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN) in East and West Midlands.

Seven incredible artists were selected and put forward by an excellent panel of regional curators, galleries and artists. Included below is information from both regions about the process and how they selected the artists, and for more details about Art X-UK visit the Government Art Collection website.

The Selected Artists: 

Abdulrazaq Awofeso (New Art West Midlands), Vanley Burke (New Art West Midlands),  Keith Piper (New Art West Midlands), Farwa Moledina (New Art West Midlands), Miranda Smart (CVAN East Midlands), Marlene Smith (New Art West Midlands) and Jason Wilsher-Mills (CVAN East Midlands)

Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Joshie, 2022
Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Mabel, 2022
Vanley Burke, Carey’s finger (The Accused), 2023
Vanley Burke, African Drummers, Africa Liberation Day Handsworth, 1977
Vanley Burke, James Hunt on the campaign trail, Soho Road, 1983
Vanley Burke, Supplementary Education, Wilks Green Infant School Handsworth, 1975
Vanley Burke, Blackpool Day Trip, 1975
Vanley Burke, On-yu Bike, Handsworth Park, 1970
Vanley Burke, Girls perform the songs of the Supremes, Handsworth, 1970
Vanley Burke, Step into the unknown, Soho Road, 1983
Vanley Burke, Molly, YWCA Bristol Road, 1983 Vanley Burke, Molly, YWCA Bristol Road, 1983
Farwa Moledina, Maryam (a.s.), 2023
Farwa Moledina, Khadijah (a.s.), 2023
Farwa Moledina, Aasiyah (a.s.), 2023
Farwa Moledina, Fatimah (a.s), 2023
Miranda Smart, Smashing Silence, 2019
Miranda Smart, Many Moods, 2020
Miranda Smart, Esoteric Eye Candy, 2012
Marlene Smith, Ad(dress) Rehearsal – Golda, 2014
Marlene Smith, Ad(dress) Rehearsal – Wesley, 2014
Jason Wilsher-Mills, The Other Western Gentleman, 2015

Regional Selection Process 

“CVAN EM was delighted to partner with the Government Art Collection again on this brilliant initiative to recognise and platform the incredibly ambitious work being made by artists across the East Midlands!” Colette Griffin, Director CVAN East Midlands

CVAN East Midlands worked with a selection panel of artists and arts workers from across the region to compile a shortlist of East Midlands-based artists creating ambitious work across diverse media. The panel comprised Emer Grant, Artistic Director and CEO, NN Contemporary Art; Jenny Gleadell, Exhibitions and Interpretation Officer, Lincoln Museum; Saad Eddine Said, Artistic Director and CEO, New Art Exchange & Chair, CVAN EM and artists Michael Forbes, Joey Holder and Christopher Samuel, with all three having had work acquired by the GAC through the inaugural Art X-UK project (2020-21). 

Each panellist nominated 2-3 East Midlands-based artists, and following a selection meeting, 10 names were put forward for consideration by the Government Art Collection. The panel was asked to consider diverse representation when choosing who to nominate and eventually short-list. Nominated artists were all emerging or mid-career. 

When creating the shortlist, the panel considered which long-listed artists would benefit most from the opportunity and engagement at this particular point in their career and development journey. Representing different localities in the region was also important, with the short-list comprising artists based in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.

New Art West Midlands was delighted to be asked to work with the Government Art Collection on their Art X-UK programme to bring the perspectives and recommendations of regional curators to inform their new acquisitions. Our role was to convene a panel of curators and chair the shortlisting process before introducing the shortlisted artists.  We put together a panel of five curators tasked with providing a shortlist of 10 artists with roots or links to the West Midlands. The panel of curators responsible for the shortlisting and putting artists forward were:

  • Yasmeen Baig-Clifford, Founder/Director, Vivid Projects
  • Oliver McCall, Senior Curator, Compton Verney
  • Candice Nembhard, independent curator
  • Melanie Pocock, Acting Artistic Director (Exhibitions), Ikon Gallery
  • Sylvia Theuri, independent curator and educator

The West Midlands’ process began with a visit to the Government Art Collection to see works from the collection both on show and in the stores of their central London site. Here, we received great insight from Nicola Freeman and the GAC team on how they work with artists and the use of the collection across government and beyond.

Informed by the visit, our panel of curators were invited to propose up to four artists each to create a longlist for consideration. Then, on a late autumn afternoon, the panel met at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery to debate and agree their shortlist. Among a diverse shortlist were artists proposed by more than one panel member and those with established practices not yet represented in the Government Art Collection.

Craig Ashley, the co-chair of New Art West Midlands and chair of the selection panel, said: “Representation in the Government Art Collection carries great significance, recognising the value of artists and their work within the highest level of the British political establishment. The Art X-UK initiative gives regions a stake in who is represented here. For the West Midlands, this has been an opportunity to spotlight the work of important artists who reflect contemporary society’s current and real concerns.”

The Art X-UK initiative builds upon New Art West Midlands’ previous work with the Government Art Collection, which has seen the acquisition of work by regional artists, including Paul Crook, Andrew Jackson, Antonio Roberts and Nilupa Yasmin. 

“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 the curators and acquisition panel have yet to encounter their work. It is vital to share artists across a network of larger organisations and new curators and experience their diverse work in significant collections.  Paula Orrell, CVAN England, National Director