Bridget Riley signs petition to stop sell-off of Southampton's art collection

Daily Echo: Artist Bridget Riley signs online petition to stop Southampton Council's great art sale Artist Bridget Riley signs online petition to stop Southampton Council's great art sale

EMINENT British artist Bridget Riley has backed a campaign calling for Southampton’s great art sale to be stopped.

Riley became the 719th person to sign an online petition deploring the sale, which is expected to raise about £5m.

Ironically, it was the purchase of a Riley painting in 2006 that first sparked debate about whether it was time to sell-off works from the City Art Gallery’s overflowing collection.

The funding body that helped Southampton pay for the controversial £250,000 painting, entitled Red Movement, has also reacted angrily to the sale.

The Art Fund, which awards £4m in grants to museums and galleries each year, says it would set a precedent for councils across the UK to start selling off their collections.

As first revealed by the Daily Echo, the Tory-controlled city council wants to sell a sculpture by French master Auguste Rodin and a painting by English artist Sir A l f r e d Munnings.

The money will help pay for the £15m Sea City M u s e u m , which will feature a Titanic exhibition, expand the art gallery and showcase Southampton’s maritime heritage.

A London representative of Riley last night confirmed the abstract painter had put her name to the Save Our Collection petition By yesterday morning, 817 people had signed the petition, which will be presented to the city council in two weeks.

Riley’s painting was the most significant acquisition for Southampton in more than 30 years, but an Echo investigation subsequently revealed the vast 3,500-collection was uninsured and that many works hadn’t been shown for years.

The decision to sell the Rodin and Munnings – which has been on loan to an Essex museum for the past 20 years – followed a three-year Echo campaign for some art to be sold to fund new culture projects.

However, Andrew Macdonald, acting director of The Art Fund, which paid £80,000 towards Red Movement, called for the council to find the cash elsewhere to pay for the proposed museum.

“The Art Fund is in close touch with Southampton City Art Gallery about the proposed sale of works of art from its permanent collection, although as we understand it, no final decision has yet been made to sell either the Munnings or the Rodin,”

Mr Macdonald said.

“We are, however, concerned that if it does go ahead, this sale – however well-intentioned – will set an uncomfortable precedent, stretching the sector’s guidelines and effectively sanctioning the disposal of works of art from publicly-owned collections to support other areas of public sector cultural provision.

“We continue to hope that Southampton City Council will explore other avenues before seeking to raise funds through the sale of works of art from the City Art Gallery’s permanent collection.”

A public meeting is due to be held by the council this month to present its plans for the sale, however no date has been set.

Comments (10)

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10:24am Wed 2 Sep 09

Swalk says...

Well done Bridget, many thanks for your support. Further proof that Southampton Council is alienating itself more and more from the arts world that they "claim" to embrace.
Well done Bridget, many thanks for your support. Further proof that Southampton Council is alienating itself more and more from the arts world that they "claim" to embrace. Swalk
  • Score: 0

11:19am Wed 2 Sep 09

Torville & Dean says...

Ice skating too can be an art form...new ice rink coming soon!
Ice skating too can be an art form...new ice rink coming soon! Torville & Dean
  • Score: 0

2:57pm Wed 2 Sep 09

bumblysaint says...

I thought the art belonged
to the people,if that's right
why not let the people have a say in what happens to it.
I thought the art belonged to the people,if that's right why not let the people have a say in what happens to it. bumblysaint
  • Score: 0

3:54pm Wed 2 Sep 09

Condor Man says...

Perhaps Ms Riley would like to contribute to the Titanic Museum instread? after all that's what the money used from the art sale is going to be used for.
Perhaps Ms Riley would like to contribute to the Titanic Museum instread? after all that's what the money used from the art sale is going to be used for. Condor Man
  • Score: 0

6:44pm Wed 2 Sep 09

Tommy News says...

The Museum Libraries and Archives Council has given its full backing for the sale. The ironic thing is that a sale of a handful of paintings will result in a far greater proportion of the collection going on display thereby benefiting art lovers. Plus the sale will be to other public galleries who will no doubt display thier new acquisitions.

So a win win I think!
The Museum Libraries and Archives Council has given its full backing for the sale. The ironic thing is that a sale of a handful of paintings will result in a far greater proportion of the collection going on display thereby benefiting art lovers. Plus the sale will be to other public galleries who will no doubt display thier new acquisitions. So a win win I think! Tommy News
  • Score: 0

8:48pm Wed 2 Sep 09

senseofsouthampton says...

Most of these mugs moaning about this sale have never seen either of these two works.
Luddites, they'd all be destroying steam engines if this was the eighteenth century.
Most of these mugs moaning about this sale have never seen either of these two works. Luddites, they'd all be destroying steam engines if this was the eighteenth century. senseofsouthampton
  • Score: 0

8:59pm Wed 2 Sep 09

Swalk says...

Wrong Tommy, the MLAC hasn't given its full backing to the sale. They haven't made their minds up yet. And what's the point of having extra space if the council is going to sell off some of the most precious works? Paintings aren't all the same, and the best ones are the ones that will attract the most visitors. Selling them off would show just how insincere the council's prentendy promotion of the arts in the city really is.
Wrong Tommy, the MLAC hasn't given its full backing to the sale. They haven't made their minds up yet. And what's the point of having extra space if the council is going to sell off some of the most precious works? Paintings aren't all the same, and the best ones are the ones that will attract the most visitors. Selling them off would show just how insincere the council's prentendy promotion of the arts in the city really is. Swalk
  • Score: 0

10:35pm Wed 2 Sep 09

Montymontymonty says...

bumblysaint wrote:
I thought the art belonged to the people,if that's right why not let the people have a say in what happens to it.
Hear hear bumblysaint. Regrettably the gathered great and the good of the art world (and the various hangers on being pulled along in their slipstream) probably believe the lumpenprole incapable of making rational decisions such as...oh I don't know....selling a couple of pieces of art that haven't seen the light of day in a good many years in favour of an investment in a piece of future heritage for us (the aforementioned unwashed masses). Sell the d*mn things and lets' be done with it.

Oh and at the same time I may start a petition to prevent us (that's the people of Southampton) shelling out for any more Bridget "I'm alright Jack with my £250k thank you very much" Riley ..."paintings".

P'ah!
[quote][p][bold]bumblysaint[/bold] wrote: I thought the art belonged to the people,if that's right why not let the people have a say in what happens to it.[/p][/quote]Hear hear bumblysaint. Regrettably the gathered great and the good of the art world (and the various hangers on being pulled along in their slipstream) probably believe the lumpenprole incapable of making rational decisions such as...oh I don't know....selling a couple of pieces of art that haven't seen the light of day in a good many years in favour of an investment in a piece of future heritage for us (the aforementioned unwashed masses). Sell the d*mn things and lets' be done with it. Oh and at the same time I may start a petition to prevent us (that's the people of Southampton) shelling out for any more Bridget "I'm alright Jack with my £250k thank you very much" Riley ..."paintings". P'ah! Montymontymonty
  • Score: 0

8:25am Thu 3 Sep 09

Swalk says...

Why do people keep saying these exhibits are "gathering dust" in the cellar or (Quote: montymontymonty - "haven't seen light of day in a good many years")? Both statements are categorically wrong, and the fact that this argument is being used so frequently shows how misinformed some people are. Trying to win an argument on the basis of a false premise is not only pointless but counter-productive.
Why do people keep saying these exhibits are "gathering dust" in the cellar or (Quote: montymontymonty - "haven't seen light of day in a good many years")? Both statements are categorically wrong, and the fact that this argument is being used so frequently shows how misinformed some people are. Trying to win an argument on the basis of a false premise is not only pointless but counter-productive. Swalk
  • Score: 0

10:59am Tue 15 Sep 09

paulfking says...

I am a member of the Art Fund and naturally support the acqisition of works of art by our public galleries.

But I do not think it is right to hold on for ever to everything ever bought, especially when a gallery has no room to display all its collection, even by rotation. Tastes change and priorities change and we, through our elected representatives, should be able to decide that certain items should be sold.

In this case it seems that the items in question have been on loan for 20 years to a gallery in Essex. Why should we not raise money by selling items which the residents of Southampton and Hampshire cannot see?

I would prefer that money raised in this way were used to expand gallery space so that more of the city's collection can be put on view.
I am a member of the Art Fund and naturally support the acqisition of works of art by our public galleries. But I do not think it is right to hold on for ever to everything ever bought, especially when a gallery has no room to display all its collection, even by rotation. Tastes change and priorities change and we, through our elected representatives, should be able to decide that certain items should be sold. In this case it seems that the items in question have been on loan for 20 years to a gallery in Essex. Why should we not raise money by selling items which the residents of Southampton and Hampshire cannot see? I would prefer that money raised in this way were used to expand gallery space so that more of the city's collection can be put on view. paulfking
  • Score: 0

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