Major loans to Historic England exhibition at Somerset House

Historic England’s first major exhibition, Out There: Our Post-War Public Art, tells the story of key public art created between 1945 and 1985. Out There will follow the fates and fortunes of site-specific sculptures and reliefs by pioneering artists. Work by Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink, Ralph Brown (lent by The Ingram Collection), Geoffrey Clarke, William Mitchell, and Paul Mount will be featured.
Historic England has been assessing post-war sculpture across England to build a better picture of the best examples of late 20th century sculptural art works. The exhibition opening will follow the announcement of around 40 new listings of public art.
Out There celebrates England’s fascinating yet forgotten national collection of public art. Many pieces have been lost, damaged, moved or even destroyed, others saved, celebrated and widely loved. Historic England, formerly English Heritage, will explain why post war public art matters, how it might be looked after better and what we can all do to help save it.
Out There examines the aspirations, role, design, commissioning and legacy of sculptural art for public spaces and buildings. They were designed by artists to create a utopian sense of shared experience, possibility, and hope for the future. The influence of the 1951 Festival of Britain, the London County Council’s art patronage scheme, early Arts Council sculpture exhibitions, art commissioning in Harlow New Town, the ill-fated 1972 Peter Stuyvesant Sculpture in the City Project and the patronage of developers will be explored.
The story of these works will be told through original architectural models, maquettes, photographs, drawings and letters. Bronze maquettes of Elisabeth Frink’s Boar in Harlow and Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure on the side of John Lewis, Oxford Street will be on show, among others.
The exhibition highlights the risks to post-war public art and debates its future by looking at its conservation and protection. Drawing from Historic England’s call for information on missing public art in December, a wall of images of public art that have disappeared will be on show in the hope that some one ‘out there’ might know their whereabouts.
On display and in need of a new home is an ambitious fibre glass architectural relief by Paul Mount which once clad a supermarket in Falmouth, and was saved from a skip by an enthusiast with a large garage. Out There will also host Trevor Tennant’s 1963 architectural relief designed for the entrance hall of Welwyn Garden City’s Queen Elizabeth II Hospital and later rescued by a resident doctor. Various works lent from private collections are on public display for the first time, including original designs by John Graham for Harlow New Town.
The accompanying education programme to the exhibition includes tours of public artworks, an academic study day with leading researchers in the field and a workshop produced in collaboration with the Twentieth Century Society for custodians of public art. The Royal Academy is hosting a debate on the future of public art where contemporary artists, historians and commissioners of public art will be brought together.
Somerset House is an internationally recognised venue of excellence for culture and the arts. Out There will take over the East Wing Galleries. The exhibition will be part of Somerset House’s year of Utopia-themed programming to mark the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic book. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Gaventa.
Visitor Information
Out There: Our Post-War Public Art
3 February – 10 April 2016
East Wing Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
£6.50, £5.00 concessions
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