Spotlight On: An Eyeful of Wry

The Government Art Collection currently holds over 14,000 impressive artworks, mainly by British artists, ranging from the 16th century to the present day in a variety of media. For the last 119 years, this eclectic and diverse collection has been displayed in British government buildings, from Downing Street to British Embassies in almost every capital city in the world.

For just over one month a selection of artworks from this national collection will be shared with new audiences here in Hull with a special- curated exhibition, An Eyeful of Wry, exploring the idea of the artist as a joker. This is the first regional exhibition drawing from the national collection since 2013 and showcases a range of amusing artworks from leading contemporary artists, alongside droll satirical prints dating back to the 18th century. The exhibition offers spectators an insight to the blend of art and comedy that has shaped the Government Art Collection since its inception in 1898.

Intent on exploring at Britain’s sense of humour, contemporary artworks bustling with wit and a hint of the absurd are brought together here. Some of the UK’s most famous living artists – Grayson Perry, Bob and Roberta Smith, Jim Lambie, David Shrigley, and Cornelia Parker are represented in the exhibition, alongside renowned 18th century political cartoonists James Gillray and William Heath.

Visitors will also discover video art by Simon Faithfull, Mitra Saboury and Wood and Harrison, all featuring very different performances that range from introspective humour to pure slapstick.

New work by experimental British artist Peter Liversidge goes on display for the first time too, as the artist mischievously entices us with his Proposals for the Government Art Collection. His propositions are as eclectic as composing a song for British embassy staff around the world, to swamping the streets in bunting! This includes videos created by Liversidge exclusively for this exhibition, featuring the comedian Phill Jupitus as well as a group of art students from Hull.

An Eyeful of Wry is on display at Brynmor Jones Library until Sunday 26 November 2017 and establishes the University of Hull as a place to see world class visual arts.