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First Government Art Collection exhibition for UK City of Culture

19th October 2017

Hull will host its first public exhibition of Government Art Collection work as part of its year as UK City of Culture, Arts Minister John Glen announced today.

An Eyeful of Wry, which opens on 20 October at the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library, is the first regional exhibition from the national collection since 2013.

The exhibition presents work by a range of contemporary artists exploring humour in its many forms. Alongside work by artists such as Grayson Perry, Bob and Roberta Smith and Cornelia Parker, is a group of contrasting satirical prints from the 18th and 19th centuries including work by James Gillray.

New work by British artist Peter Liversidge will also be displayed for the first time, including a video featuring the comedian Phill Jupitus. In the film, created exclusively for this exhibition, he is seen repeating the same humorous story over and over again for more than an hour.

The exhibition will be hosted in the Brynmor Jones Library, which already this year has been home to a diverse programme of visual arts from the recent Philip Larkin retrospective to the Lines of Thought collection of drawings by the likes of Michelangelo and Picasso.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism John Glen said:
“The exhibition looks at Britain’s sense of humour from late 18th century political satire to contemporary art. I’m pleased that Hull as our UK City of Culture 2017 will host this exhibition, giving us the opportunity to open up the Government Art Collection to new audiences.”

Professor Glenn Burgess, University of Hull Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Hull 2017 Board Member, said:

“We are delighted to host An Eyeful of Wry, our latest major exhibition at the University of Hull campus. So far this year we have hosted works by some of the world’s most famous artists, putting the University firmly on the map as a place to see world class visual art that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to enjoy our galleries and campus in this final season of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.”

The Government Art Collection holds over 14,000 works of art dating from the 16th century to the present day. For the last 119 years it has displayed its collection in British government buildings, including Downing Street, and British Embassies in nearly every capital city in the world.
Other Government Art Collection works will be displayed at the Brynmor Jones Library Gallery at the University of Hull that explore the idea of the artist as joker.

Mel Brimfield’s work 4’33” (Prepared Pianola for Roger Bannister) was commissioned by the Government Art Collection to coincide with the 2012 Olympics and pays homage to American composer John Cage and British runner Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile under four minutes. The work incorporates a vintage pianola and audio fragments of national anthems and TV sports programmes.

Bedwyr Williams’ Bard Attitude uses character and comedy to explore the banality of life and features a wandering minstrel in a beard and wig. Wood and Harrison’s video work has echoes of Laurel and Hardy, as they explore the frustrations of everyday life through the artists’ deadpan antics.

The exhibition will run from 20 October until 26 November at the Brynmor Jones Library gallery, University of Hull as part of the final season of UK City of Culture 2017 – Tell the World. This final season has been designed to celebrate the qualities that make Hull stand out including independence, individuality and a sense of humour. 

“We are delighted to host An Eyeful of Wry, our latest major exhibition at the University of Hull campus. So far this year we have hosted works by some of the world’s most famous artists, putting the University firmly on the map as a place to see world class visual art that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to enjoy our galleries and campus in this final season of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.”

- Professor Glenn Burgess, University of Hull Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Hull 2017 Board Member