Turner Prize winner's lockdown self-portrait acquired for Rugby Collection

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Photo caption: Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has acquired Gillian Wearing's Untitled (Lockdown Portrait) for the Rugby Collection after securing grants from the Contemporary Art Society and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

Photo credit: Gillian Wearing (b. 1963), Untitled (Lockdown Portrait), 2020, Oil on board, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby Borough Council. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society. Purchased with support from the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, and the Zabludowicz Collection (2020/21). © Gillian Wearing.
 
THE Rugby Collection has acquired a prestigious piece by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing.

Wearing's Untitled (Lockdown Portrait) was one of a series of self-portraits created by the renowned conceptual British artist to capture her changing state of mind during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020.

The oil on board painting was acquired for the Rugby Collection after Rugby Art Gallery and Museum secured grants from the Contemporary Art Society and the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund.

Birmingham-born Wearing came to prominence in the era of the Young British Artists, a collective term coined to brand a band of daring and disparate artists which included the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume.

Her work predominately focuses on documenting everyday life through photography and video, exploring the concepts of identity and society - a method she has described as "editing life".

In 1997, she won the Turner Prize for 60 Minutes Silence, a piece which initially appears to be a photographic portrait of a group of police officers but, on viewing, reveals itself to be a video of subjects experiencing an hour of trying to hold a pose.

Wearing was made a lifetime member of London's Royal Academy of Arts in 2007 and her sculpture of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett stands in Parliament Square.

Sarah Holdaway, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's senior visual arts officer, said the acquisition of such a significant example of contemporary portrait was a real coup for the Rugby Collection.

"Gillian Wearing's series of self-portraits created in lockdown mark a significant shift for the artist in terms of medium, and explore the anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic experience," Sarah said.

"Acquiring Untitled (Lockdown Portrait) for the Rugby Collection furthers our work to address gender imbalances within the collection, securing pieces which initiate discussions around social and cultural identity, and means Rugby Art Gallery and Museum now owns a work by another leading British contemporary artist."

The Rugby Collection of modern British contemporary art was established by the council in 1946 and now has more than 200 pieces, including works by LS Lowry, Barbara Hepworth, Stanley Spencer and Lubaina Himid, another winner of the Turner Prize.

Cllr Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing, said: "The Rugby Collection features works by many of the most influential contemporary British artists of the 20th and 21th century, and such a unique and recent work by Gillian Wearing marks a significant addition to the collection.

"We're indebted to the support of the Contemporary Art Society and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund which has allowed us to purchase this piece, and look forward to it going on display at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum next month in the Body en Thrall exhibition."