Announcing our New Acquisitions 2020-21

14 May 2021

<p><strong>We are delighted to reveal today the <a href="" target="_blank">full list of works</a> that have been acquired for the Arts Council Collection in 2020–21. Despite the global pandemic the ongoing commitment to supporting artists has seen 60 works by 21 artists acquired for the nation. This year's acquisitions mark the 75th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection and the artists' works selected truly reflect the diversity and the strides towards inclusion in modern Britain. </strong></p><p>Arts Council Collection, which manages the national loan collection on behalf of Arts Council England, supports and promotes artists living in Britain today by buying their work at an early or critical stage in their career, making it immediately available for loan to the nation’s museums and public institutions including schools, universities, hospitals and charitable associations. </p><p>Deborah Smith, Director of Arts Council Collection, commented:</p><p><em>"</em><em>It's been an unprecedented year, and throughout the pandemic we’ve actively continued to collect and support artists. As we celebrate the Arts Council Collection's 75th anniversary, I’m delighted, together with the Acquisitions Committee, to announce our new acquisitions for 2020–21 which reflects the entire breadth of British art and artists working in the UK today.”</em></p>


Artists whose work has been acquired this year hail from many recognisable cities and counties across the UK including Gabriella Boyd (work pictured here) from Glasgow whose paintings are influenced by psychoanalysis, literature and theatre. Boyd seeks to communicate things that are difficult to say or show – how it feels to live in a body, for instance, or the unexpected intimacy of everyday encounters. Liv Preston is heavily influenced by the material language and attitudes of West Yorkshire, where she grew up. With an obsessive interest in video games and the subterranean, her practice combines sculpture with conceptual gestures. 

London born, Shezad Dawood works across film, textiles, print, painting and sculpture to explore how different systems of language, site and narrative can exist within and between these forms. His work often involves collaboration and is particularly concerned with acts of editing and re-staging. 

From Cardiff, Merlin James’s paintings include land and seascapes, figures, architecture, interiors and erotic scenes. Cornwall-based Abigail Reynolds uses a process based on collage, bringing found materials into new contexts. The Universal Now is an ongoing body of work created by splicing together photographs of a place, taken from the same angle by different photographers, often decades apart. 

The Arts Council Collection : Announcing our New Acquisitions 2020-21

The new Acquisitions Committee this year includes artist Simeon Barclay and Alistair Robinson, Programme Director, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art. The Committee researches artists and makes recommendations from within and beyond established gallery networks and are responsible for including the most innovative and progressive works, ensuring a broad range of artists are considered each year. 

The external advisers to the Acquisitions Committee for 2020–21 were: Ryan Gander, artist, James Green, Director of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Martha Barratt, writer and editor and Dr. Zoé Whitley, Director of Chisenhale Gallery. The internal members of the Acquisitions Committee are Deborah Smith, Director, Arts Council Collection, with Ralph Rugoff (Director, Hayward Gallery), and Peter Heslip (Director, Visual Arts, Arts Council England). Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, acts as Chair to the Committee.


Olivia Bax, Oliver Beer, Gabriella Boyd, Lucy Clout, Shawanda Corbett, Shezad Dawood, Adam Farah, Miranda Forrester, Ryan Gander, Andrew Pierre Hart, Merlin James, Rachel Jones, Lindsey Mendick, Hannah Perry, Liv Preston, Abigail Reynolds, Prem Sahib, Libita Sibungu, Magda Stawarska-Beavan, Rosa-Johan Uddoh, Caroline Walker.

For more information on the artists and works listed, please go to the Collection webpage here


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.