New artwork secured for Leicester thanks to innovative exhibition series

New artworks have been gifted to Leicester following a successful month-long series of exhibitions held at The Gallery at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Fig-futures took place throughout November at The Gallery @DMU, bringing the work of four performance artists – Ben Judd, Kathryn Elkin, Annika Strom and Anna Barham - to Leicester for a series of very different premieres.


The Gallery was one of only four venues in the UK to be part of the fig-futures programme, which aimed to build a new collecting model by initiating a way for galleries outside of London to get new work.

Artworks acquired range from performance works, films, large scale sculptures, photography and paintings to durational dance pieces, diversifying the collections the artworks will go to. The total sum of the acquisitions is in the region of £80,000.

The Gallery will acquire The Inept Five, by Annika Ström and Nothing Human Is Strange to Me, by Ben Judd. They also acquire a yet to be created video work by Kathryn Elkin filmed during her tenure, a collaboration with the students of the university.

ff ben magic lantern small

Gallery curator Hugo Worthy said: “The acquisitions mark an important moment for The Gallery – the first two performance works to enter the collection, both of which are already active.

“Ström’s work has already been shown subsequent to acquisition as part of Contemporary Art Society’s collecting performance symposium and the work is ongoing in terms of bringing Judd’s work into the collection leading to a solo show in 2020.

“Fig Futures has had a tangible impact on or institution and our audiences, and will directly contribute to future direction of The Gallery at De Montfort University. We are enormously proud to have been a part of such a significant programme and thrilled to have such concrete legacy in the form of these major works entering the collection.”
Fig-futures built on ideas developed by fig-2, where 50 consecutive week-long exhibitions took place in 50 weeks at the ICA, London in 2015.

fig-futures was initiated by Art Fund and Outset Contemporary Art Fund to develop a new collecting scheme for the acquisition of contemporary artworks into public collections, as well as artist and curatorial development opportunities for galleries and practitioners outside the capital. It saw 16, week-long exhibitions across four venues who, in turn, acquired works by the artists included in their respective shows.

FF ben and jo small

As the week long shows have been presented, 20,000 people have visited or engaged with them in the four locations, seeing work as varied as an installation with knitters and a metal band, a large scale photography presentation, a maritime inspired sculpture, film projections and projects engaging with students and local communities.

Ben worked with author Rod Duncan, a choir and DMU lecturers to create his performance piece, Nothing Human Is Strange to Me, which told the story of a mythical Leicester tribe. He borrowed artefacts from Leicester Museums and worked with author Rod Duncan and fashion designer Jo Cope to create the work.

Artist Ben Judd said: “It is an exciting prospect and a privilege for my work Nothing Human is Strange to Me to enter the DMU collection, alongside key historical works and works by my peers. It was a pleasure to work with fig-futures, De Montfort University and Outset, and it’s gratifying that this relationship will continue through the acquisition.”

The Inept Five was one of five different performance pieces created by Annika Strom in the same venue. DMU students and staff were part of the performance, with drama students playing some of the cast in The Inept Five, and staff forming some of Six Lovely People and the Seven Women Standing in the Way.

* See what the latest exhibitions are on at The Gallery DMU
* Myths create magical performance art at DMU
* What a performance! Exhibition gallery creates a buzz

Yves Blais, Project Manager, fig-futures, said, "It has been incredibly exciting to see a momentum build through the week-long fig-futures exhibitions across the past year and to now announce this diverse set of acquisitions, the result of our innovative curating and collecting model, the first of its kind.

“Many of these artworks have regional or local specificity to the collections in which they are entering, to be enjoyed by and create new discourse for future generations. It will also ensure that the artists being acquired have a permanent voice within the nation’s art collections.”

Robert Dingle, Programme Partnerships Manager, Art Fund, said: “fig-futures has been an incredibly exciting series of exhibitions that have been experienced by audiences across the UK.”

Candida Gertler OBE, Co-founder and Director, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, says: “One of Outset’s main missions is to engage new audiences with contemporary art, and we are delighted that through supporting fig-futures we are helping to bring new art to new audiences, not just in London, but across the UK.

“It’s not often that such a large number of works are acquired for galleries in the UK regions and we are pleased to have been part of the journey to enhance these collections with such innovative art works.”

Posted on Tuesday 2nd April 2019

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