Director of the Whitworth, Dr Maria Balshaw, has announced a major donation of works by leading British artists including: Tracey Emin, Anya Gallaccio, Gilbert & George, Paul Graham, Michael Landy and Rebecca Warren. Selected in discussion with the Whitworth, the gift from Ivor Braka and Thomas Dane brings six key works by leading contemporary British artists, including four Turner Prize nominees, into the collection.
The gift responds to strengths in the Whitworth’s existing historic and contemporary collections. A large-scale appliquéd blanket by Tracey Emin, for example, will complement the Whitworth’s world-class holdings of fine art and textiles, which includes tapestries by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. The donation will also strengthen the gallery’s representation of contemporary British female artists by adding Rebecca Warren’s 2006 Turner Prize nominated installation Sylvesternacht as well as a significant Anya Gallaccio sculpture that will sit alongside a major new commission by the artist, to be realised in Manchester in Spring 2016.
Maria Balshaw commented: ‘We are thrilled by this important gift. Acquiring major works by contemporary artists is perhaps the biggest challenge facing UK public collections today and it is where collectors can offer the greatest help to galleries. The Whitworth has benefited from major gifts from successive generations of visionary private collectors from the Manchester area and beyond: from Turner watercolours gifted by Manchester Guardian founder, John Edward Taylor, to the first Picasso to enter a British public collection donated by Michael Sadler in 1922 and in recent years, The Karpidas gift of contemporary art. This support is vital to help ensure the whole of the UK is able to enjoy and learn about the greatest artists of our nation.’
Both Gallerists remarked remarked: ‘In America every major city (Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, among others) has a major museum, often comparable to a national museum in terms of both quality and scope. In the UK, outside of the capital cities, this is not the case. Since the donations by the late 19th century industrialists there have been few significant gains from philanthropists to our regional collections, with some notable exceptions such as the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. The Whitworth, under Maria Balshaw’s leadership, has sought to address this situation and we hope it will serve as an encouraging example of what can be achieved with focus and determination. Charitable giving by individuals in this country needs to be encouraged and this also requires the effort of government.’
The Whitworth re-opened in February this year following a £15 million redevelopment project that transformed the 125 year old institution into a 21st century gallery in the park. In July the gallery was awarded The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year. More recently, the new building has been shortlisted for the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture. The Whitworth has welcomed over 350,000 visitors in its first nine months, a record-breaking figure for the gallery.
Ivor Braka is a leading international art dealer, based in London. He was born and raised in Manchester.
Thomas Dane founded Thomas Dane Gallery in 2004 in St James’s, London which represents leading international artists including Steve McQueen, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Glenn Ligon, Cecily Brown, among many others.