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Art you’ve helped support: This month’s highlights

From a haunting portrait of Dylan Thomas to an amazing mechanical sculpture that comes to life, here’s a selection of works of art we’ve supported recently thanks to our members and donors.

From historic artefacts brimming with stories to dazzling new installations, at Art Fund we’re always helping museums add intriguing objects and works of art to their collections.

We couldn’t do any of it without the support of our members, donors, and museum lovers like you. By purchasing a National Art Pass and supporting Art Fund’s work, you’re helping to bring more of the art you love into museums and public spaces where everyone can enjoy it.

Here’s a flavour of what you’ll be able to see in museums soon thanks to this support. What will you discover?

Rowland Emett, A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley, 1984, Art Funded 2020, © Charlotte Graham

Marvellous magical machinery

This whimsical kinetic sculpture (pictured above and top) was made by Rowland Emett, the mastermind behind the breakfast-making machine in the beloved 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley (1984) depicts a train journey on the fictional Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway. It’s joined the Science Museum Group’s collection with Art Fund support, and you can experience its magic at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, where it’s on temporary display until May 2022.

Here’s a sneak peek of it in action.

Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Melissa Thompson, 2020, V&A East, Art Funded 2021, © Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy Kehinde Wiley and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

The Yellow Wallpaper reimagined

American artist Kehinde Wiley is known for his enigmatic paintings of Black subjects inspired by Old Masters.

He has also used William Morris designs as backdrops in his portraits for more than 15 years. This portrait – which features a Morris & Co pattern, ‘Wild Tulip’ – is one of a series titled The Yellow Wallpaper, which takes its name from a short story by 19th-century American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The story concerns a woman who becomes obsessed by the wallpaper in an attic room where she has been confined by her husband; only by scraping off the paper does she believe she can free herself.

This stunning work has now joined the collection at the V&A, where it builds on the museum’s growing collection of work by Black artists and designers.

Gordon Stuart, Portrait of Dylan Thomas, 1953, Carmarthenshire County Council Museum, Art Funded 2021, © the artist’s estate

Portrait of a writer

Painted by the Canadian-born, Swansea-based artist Gordon Stuart in the 1950s, this important portrait of celebrated Welsh poet and playwright Dylan Thomas has a sad undertone, as Thomas died shortly after it was completed, aged just 39.

This last-known portrait of Thomas is now housed in Carmarthenshire Museum, not far from the poet’s famous boathouse, where it was painted.

Wangechi Mutu, Histology of the Different Classes of Uterine Tumours, 2004-5, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Art Funded 2020, © Wangechi Mutu. Photo courtesy Sotheby's

A powerful feminist work

Wangechi Mutu’s collage series Histology of the Different Classes of Uterine Tumors (2004-5) is part of an ongoing exploration in her art of racial stereotyping, Western objectification and colonialism with regards to the Black female body. Interestingly, Mutu has composed the collages on pages of a 19th-century medical folio, including materials such as glitter, fur and cuts from fashion magazines.

The series now sits in the sensational permanent collection at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

Mary Spicer, Bridge at Bungay, after 1954, Ipswich Museums (Christchurch Mansion). Bequeathed by Linda Runes with Art Fund support, 2020 © the artist

Local landscapes

Joining the collection at Ipswich Museums, three striking works by local artists Mary Spicer and Delia Tournay-Godfrey celebrate the scenery of East Anglia and Suffolk. Born respectively in Essex and Suffolk, both artists have an affinity with the local landscapes.

These works have found their home at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, where they help to increase the representation of contemporary women artists in the collection.

Keen to see more? Check back next month when well be sharing some more recent highlights with you.

Pictured top: Rowland Emett, A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley, 1984, Art Funded 2020, © Charlotte Graham

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