Out There: Our Post-War Public Art
The first major Historic England exhibition features in Somerset House's 'Utopia 2016' season
• Exhibition looks at role and varying fates of public art created between 1945 and 1985
• Original models, reliefs, maquettes, photographs, drawings and letters will be on public display, some for the very first time
Historic England’s first major exhibition, Out There: Our Post-War Public Art opens at Somerset House on 3rd February 2016. Telling the story of key public art created between 1945 and 1985, the exhibition will follow the fates and fortunes of site-specific sculptures and reliefs by pioneering artists, focussing on works that will be listed by Historic England. Work by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ralph Brown, Geoffrey Clarke, William Mitchell, Elisabeth Frink and Paul Mount will be featured. 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 will host work from private collections, on public display for the first time. Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to gain a closer look at Trevor Tennant’s 1963 architectural relief designed for the entrance hall of Welwyn Garden City’s Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, and which was rescued by a resident doctor. Plus 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 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 story of these works will be told through original architectural models, maquettes, photographs, drawings and letters. The influence of the Festival of Britain, the London County Council’s art patronage scheme, early Arts Council sculpture exhibitions, art commissioning in Harlow New Town and the patronage of developers will be explored. The exhibition also highlights the risks to post-war public art and debates its future by looking at its conservation and protection. Images of works that have sadly disappeared will also be featured, in the hope that some one ‘out there’ might know their whereabouts.
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 will coincide with the announcement of a number of new listings, and therefore protection, of public art.
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 for custodians of public art. The Royal Academy will host 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, a beautiful series of neoclassical rooms that open directly onto The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. 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 and ends on 10 April 2016.
Further information from Katharine Grice at Historic England: Katharine.grice@HistoricEngland.org.uk; 020 7973 3293.
Notes to Editors
Dates: 3 February – 10 April 2016
Admission: Booking information will be available at www.HistoricEngland.org.uk/OutThere
Address: East Wing Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
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About Historic England
We are Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), the public body that champions and protects England's historic places. We look after the historic environment, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for it and helping the public to understand and enjoy it.
Out There is curated by Sarah Gaventa MA (RCA). She has worked as a public space and cultural curator for clients such as Somerset House, The Sorrell Foundation, New London Architecture, the V&A Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts. She is the founder of Made Public a public space and curation consultancy.
Utopia 2016 is four seasons of activity celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. Published in Leuven in December 1516, More’s Utopia presented an imaginative and playful vision of the world as it could be at a time of great change. More’s Utopia is deliberately ambiguous: both “no place” and “good place”, he is clear that many other visions for society are possible. Through a series of exhibitions, events, new commissions, talks and workshops, Utopia 2016 will explore the broad cultural history of the idea of utopia and its relevance to 21st-Century cultural, ecological, and social challenges and opportunities. The year celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and culture in creating spaces where utopian dreams are possible. Throughout Utopia 2016 people from all walks of life will be invited to experiment with new ways we might live, make, work, play and dream.
Utopia 2016 is a collaboration between three neighbours: Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute and Gallery, in partnership with the British Library, the AHRC, and the British Council, will also engage many of the 300 plus creative organisations, artists and makers resident at Somerset House.
About Somerset House
Somerset House is a unique part of the London cultural scene, a historic building within which surprising and original work comes to life. From its 18th century origins, it has been a centre for debate and discussion – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Today, Somerset House is a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum – an environment that is relaxed, welcoming to all and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries. Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture including photography, fashion, architecture and design, with an extensive integrated learning programme. We currently attract over 2.5 million visitors every year. It is one of the biggest communities of creative organisations in London including The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses.