Works from Wales’ national contemporary art collection will be dispersed in galleries across the country under plans unveiled by the Welsh Government.
The government has made establishing a National Contemporary Art Gallery one of its key commitments.
As part of this plan, a network of galleries across Wales will provide increased access to the national collection and bring contemporary art closer to communities. A number of host galleries, along with Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales, will continue to hold and display the country’s national art collection.
A new digital platform has been launched to support the initiative, featuring around 25,000 digitised images.
Meanwhile an “anchor gallery” will also be created to provide a prominent public face for the national contemporary art gallery.
The project is a collaboration between the Arts Council of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library of Wales. The three partners have been working with different venues that are being considered as part of the dispersed network of galleries across Wales.
Nine venues across Wales have been shortlisted to be members of the network. Each of these is now undergoing a more detailed assessment.
The shortlisted venues are:
- Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
- Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
- Mostyn, Llandudno
- Newport Museum & Art Gallery, Newport
- Oriel Davies, Newtown
- Oriel Myrddin, Carmarthen
- Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Pwllheli
- Ruthin Craft Centre, Ruthin
- Storiel, Bangor
Host galleries are those that either currently host, or plan to host the national collection, and are part of the current infrastructure in Wales. They include National Museum Cardiff and potentially the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
Work is also underway to find a potential anchor gallery. In September 2022, 14 expressions of interest were received for the potential anchor site. Five local authority areas – Wrexham, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Cardiff – have been invited to develop their plans further.
In February 2023, the third sector in Wales was also invited to submit expressions of interests for any sites that match the criteria.
“The national collection belongs to everyone in Wales,” said deputy arts minister Dawn Bowden.
“The new model will allow people to explore the collection within their own communities, whilst also ensuring more people across Wales, the UK and even internationally can have improved access to the national collection.
“It will help to boost the visitor economy, support local businesses and jobs, and put Wales on the map internationally.”
Meanwhile Artes Mundi, Wales’ biennial exhibition and international contemporary art prize, will present works by the seven shortlisted artists across five partner venues when it opens for its tenth edition in October 2023 – the first time it has adopted a multi-venue format.
Taking place from 20 October to 25 February 2024, the winner of the £40,000 Artes Mundi Prize – the UK’s largest contemporary art prize – will be announced during the exhibition run.
The artists and exhibition locations are: Mounira Al Solh, Rushdi Anwar and Alia Farid at the National Museum Cardiff; Nguyễn Trinh Thi at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea and Chapter, Cardiff; Taloi Havini at Mostyn, Llandudno and Chapter, Cardiff; Carolina Caycedo at Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown and Chapter, Cardiff; and Naomi Rincón Gallardo at Chapter, Cardiff.