Contemporary Female Artists Explored In New Sheffield’s Graves Gallery Exhibition

Leading international collector Valeria Napoleone, who concentrates on work by female artists has organised a display highlighting her collection in public for the first time. This July at Sheffield’s Graves Gallery the single purpose collection, which champions and redress gender imbalance in the art world. This exhibition offers the chance to see major works by some of the most pioneering artists to have emerged in the past 20 years. The exhibition includes works by artists Monica Bonvicini, Tomma Abts, Ida Ekblad, Mai-Thu Perret, Joanne Greenbaum among many others. 

This exhibition is the latest installment of Going Public, a series of exhibitions and summits launched in 2015 by Museums Sheffield and project co-originators Mark Doyle and Sebastien Montabonel in collaboration with partner organisations across the city. The project, which shows highlights from some of Europe’s finest private collections of contemporary and twentieth century art in Sheffield, was established to lead a national conversation about the future of regional museums and debate the question ‘how can public and private sectors work better together?’. 

To coincide, Museums Sheffield released The Going Public Report, presenting the conclusions of a major summit held in October 2015 that brought together leading Museum Directors, philanthropists and industry experts. Authored by Louisa Buck, Contemporary Art Correspondent for The Art Newspaper, the document creates a new consensus between private philanthropists and public museum directors on opportunities for collaboration which could help protect the future of regional museums and galleries. The Going Public Report discusses topics such as: European vs American models of philanthropy, relationship building, tax reform, investment in artists, inspirational leadership and the continued importance of public funding. 

The Going Public Report includes comments from leaders within the museums sector such as Maria Balshaw (The Whitworth), Chris Dercon (Volksbühne) and Peter Murray (Yorkshire Sculpture Park). The perspectives of major international collectors and philanthropists are also incorporated, with contributions from collectors Nicholas Cattelain, Sylvain Levy, Edigio Marzona and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Other expert responses from the sector include: John Orna-Ornstein (Director of Museums, Arts Council England), Sarah Philp, (Director of Programmes, The Art Fund), Melanie Kassoff (Managing Director, The Freelands Foundation), among many others. 

Kim Streets, CEO of Museums Sheffield, commented: ‘The response to Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield has been extraordinary with over 135,000 visiting the exhibitions and 180 leading voices from the cultural sector attending the summit last autumn. Building on this success, we are thrilled to partner with Valeria Napoleone to continue the exhibition series this summer and share some truly remarkable work from her collection at the Graves Gallery. Louisa Buck’s excellent The Going Public Report represents the first step in a vital conversation to establish how public galleries can develop meaningful, reciprocal relationships with philanthropists. As a sector, we must now consider how we can secure the necessary investment in skills needed to develop those relationships and how we can enable the sector to get the best from those relationships in the longer term.’ 

Louisa Buck added: ‘The overwhelming message of Going Public’s multi-stranded explorations of the current and the future role of philanthropy is that philanthropy is now an evermore significant source of support for the culture sector and that more can undoubtedly be done to develop private giving. But philanthropy cannot and should not be a substitute for government funding. Going Public repeatedly confirmed that there is a strong desire on the part of private individuals to contribute to our regional museums and galleries, whether in the North of England or beyond, but they are not prepared to plug gaps caused by government cuts. The collectors themselves agreed that too much private influence could undermine the integrity of our public institutions. In short, philanthropy is not a silver bullet.’ 

Valeria Napoleone commented: ‘I am delighted to be a part of Going Public, which shares my goals of supporting realities which are too often overlooked by the mainstream and creating a catalyst for change. The exhibition will present large- scale, ambitious works by women artists that relate to themes of contemporary life – I hope visitors young and old, and of all genders, will be inspired by the sense of freedom and possibility on display.’ 

Photo: Valeria Napoleone. Photo: Michael Leckie.

Going Public – the Napoleone Collection The exhibition runs 15 July to 1 October 2016.


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