Oxford Brookes artist’s work acquired by Government Art Collection

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Hand shapes

Dr Aaron Williamson, a contemporary artist and Research Fellow in Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University, has had his work acquired by the Government Art Collection.

Purchased as part of the Art X-UK acquisitions, a £230,000 project to support artists from across the UK throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Williamson’s work is called ‘Demonstrating the World’. It is a fine art print on archival paper of collected handshapes stemming from a public intervention performance.


Dr Williamson said: "It's a real honour to have my work selected for the Government Art Collection. At a time where many artists are struggling I am glad to see this investment in art and culture across the UK.” 

 

Demonstrating the World’ was an international public performance project by Dr Williamson. Disguised as a consumer exhibition in public spaces such as shopping centres, Dr Williamson’s performance featured household furniture which transformed shape to another domestic object, such as a clock to a vacuum cleaner. The focus of the performance was on the handshapes required to manipulate the furniture, which were named and then depicted on large banners. The work acquired by the Government Art Collection is derived from this project.

 

Dr Williamson continues: "This work was inspired originally by 'how to' videos on YouTube and social media, where a small and banal aspect of everyday life, such as tying a shoelace, is given a very rigorous instructional demonstration. Using handshapes which were given descriptive names, my performance work transformed household furniture into something unrelated to its function giving a live 'how to' demonstration. The handshapes were key to the transformation and developed further, into a piece of visual art which has now been acquired for this esteemed collection."


Dr Williamson’s work was nominated by Contemporary Visual Arts Network South East for the process. The Government Art Collection curators conducted a virtual tour to source works, with Dr Williamson undergoing a shortlisting and interview process.


The Government Art Collection has, over the past year, collaborated with contemporary art networks to collect new works by 45 visual artists from across the UK, celebrating the diversity of the Union.

The newly-acquired pieces will join the 14,500 other works in the Government Art Collection which are displayed in Government buildings across the UK, including in No.10 and No.11 Downing Street, and internationally in British Embassies and Residences in a total of 130 countries around the world.

Announcing the latest acquisitions under the Art X-UK project, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “The past year has been challenging for the UK’s many brilliant artists. I am grateful that the Government Art Collection has been able to support a diverse range of artists from every corner of the country.”

Find out more about Dr Aaron Williamson's art.