Historically Britain has nurtured some of the world’s greatest painters, from Holbein in the sixteenth century, to Constable and Joseph Wright of Derby in the
In 2014 I came to realise that many of this new wave of British painters had yet to be collected with same the geographical and chronological focus of their predecessors and foreign contemporaries. So, with the help of my wife, I began the process of bringing together a body of work by artists which followed the very simple criteria of being painting produced after the year 2000 within the British Isles. The painters we began collecting included European Sovereign Painters Prize winner Susan Gunn, John Moores Prize winner Nicholas Middleton, 54th Venice Biennale exhibitor Marguerite Horner, East London Painting Prize Winner Nathan Eastwood, John Player Portrait Award Winner Paula MacArthur, Griffin Art Prize exhibitor Matthew Krishanu, Birtles Prize Winner Simon Burton and Mary Webb who received a solo show at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2011.
So far we have brought together 95 paintings by 75 artists, which has now become the very first collection of art dedicated to twenty-first-century British painting in the UK. Creating this focus has enabled us to uncover a number of significant themes which at first were hard to discern. In
Another big change we begin to notice is the shift from the predominantly male dominance the genre experienced up to the end of the twentieth century to a significant ascendancy by female practitioners. Of the 75 painters so far represented in the collection, 44 are women. Within the field, the multitude of ‘isms’ which previously made up the landscape of twentieth-century art
Yet some things have remained consistent. When we look to the past we notice how many of the greatest painters who
In bringing this body of work together we are seeking to explore, promote and question the relevance of painting and the handmade work of art in the digital age through public loans, exhibitions, talks and publications. I am delighted to say it has continued to grow through direct working and personal relationships with many of the artists represented and been enabled by painting swaps, donations and occasional purchases. We especially welcome loan requests from schools, not-for-profit galleries and art museums in the UK and abroad. We have worked with, and continue to work with, venues including the Museum of Richmond, London, Huddersfield Art Gallery, University of Suffolk, The Minories Art Gallery, Colchester, Ipswich Museums and Gallery, China Academy of Art, Shanghai, XAFA, Xi’an and Jiangsu Arts and Crafts Museum, Nanjing.
Robert Priseman, artist, collector, writer, curator and publisher