Recent Acquisitions at the Hayward Gallery

23 January 2018

The first exhibition in Hayward Gallery's newly reopened HENI Project Space features four recent sculptural acquisitions from the Arts Council Collection by Matthew Darbyshire, Ryan Gander, Amalia Pica and Simon Starling, 25 Jan - 9 Apr 2018.

These newly acquired sculptural works – some of which are exhibited in London for the first time – are concerned in different ways with action and transformation, whether it's a sculpture used to navigate troubled waters, a new form created from once-functional objects, a radically updated version of a classical work, or simply a body at rest.

The shift of materials from one state to another forms a large part of Simon Starling’s work, which he has described as ‘the physical manifestation of a thought process.’ For Project for a Rift Valley Crossing (2015–16), the artist constructed a canoe out of magnesium extracted from the politically charged waters of the Dead Sea, which as he explains is also ‘the most concentrated source of magnesium in the world’. After exhibiting the boat in his solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary in 2016, Starling returned it to its source and used it to make the difficult crossing from Israel to Jordan. This work was purchased with funds from the Thornton Bequest, generously given to the nation by the estate of Elfrida Louise Thornton in 1951.

Amalia Pica is concerned with the ways in which art can function as a form of communication. The sculptures in her ongoing series Catachresis are constructed from parts of found objects that have no name of their own, and have instead taken on names for parts of the body. Catachresis #40 (2013) includes the teeth of a rake, legs of a chair and table and head of a screw. The resulting sculptural amalgamation is deliberately absurd. ‘I think of absurdity as a call for complicity’, she explains. ‘If I tell a joke, you either laugh or you don’t. If you laugh, it feels like there’s a moment of complete understanding between us.’


​Ryan Gander’s As old as time itself, slept alone (2016) was one of eight works commissioned to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Arts Council Collection and is part of a series of sculptures by Gander which are modelled on Edgar Degas’ ballerinas. The diminutive dancer is similar in scale to those made by Degas, and a large blue cube acts as a cipher for contemporary art, or as Gander describes it: ‘a cartoon version of contemporary art’. Gander is interested in how Degas’ ballerinas are almost standard issue for museums, and in this series he attempts to free the ballerina from the plinth.

In his sculptural assemblages Matthew Darbyshire reflects on and examines the objects that we surround ourselves with, from furniture and clothing to cooking utensils and artworks. CAPTCHA No. 21 – Doryphoros (2015) is a version of a fifth-century Greek sculpture. To make his own ‘copy’ of this famous piece, Darbyshire purchased a 3D scan of the object online, before painstakingly building his figure from layer upon layer of hand-cut, hand-painted polycarbonate. His work is often ‘driven by a desire, albeit a naïve one, to wrestle back the right to make images and objects from today’s monopolising digital means.’

Following a major refurbishment programme, including the replacement of the Brutalist building’s 66 iconic pyramid rooflights, Hayward Gallery reopens in January 2018 with the first major UK retrospective of the work of German photographer Andreas Gursky.


For full details and visitor information, visit the Hayward Gallery website.


The Arts Council Collection : Recent Acquisitions at the Hayward Gallery

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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.