Collections: Relevance and Value

Figure Study II, Towner Art Gallery, 2019. Photo: Rob Harris

Join us for this free event where a panel of curators and experts will discuss the relevance of an expanding contemporary and historic art collection.

Grant Scanlan, Senior Curator at Huddersfield Art Gallery, Towner’s Head of Collections, Sara Cooper, Collections Curator, Karen Taylor and Director, Joe Hill will be in conversation to unravel the topic by looking at the value Towner places on their own collection.

The panel will discuss the historic content of Towner’s collection, the transition from the gallery’s old home in a manor house and the impact this had on collecting in a purpose built building. They will also discuss how to engage and connect with a community and introduce new concepts to curating when working with a permanent collection of works.

Grant Scanlan has been invited to participate in the panel as Huddersfield Art Gallery owns Francis Bacon’s Figure Study II, after which Towner’s current collection exhibition, curated by Joe Hill, is named. The Bacon painting previously belonged to the collection of Joe Hill’s home town, the former mining and textiles community of Batley in West Yorkshire before it closed. Arguably one of Bacon’s most important works, it was placed in Huddersfield’s collection and is currently on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Scotland following the closure of the space in Batley.

As a result, the painting (and the Batley collection as a whole) has not been shown in the town in his lifetime, and Figure Study II is now regularly featured in the national press following the council’s repeated attempts to sell the work. Consequently, Joe Hill argues strongly for the preservation of these collections as an important instrument for understanding place and identity, and a key driver of aspiration and pride amongst a community.

During his time at Towner, Joe would like the people of Eastbourne and the surrounding area to have an opportunity to get to know their collection in more detail through this dynamic series of displays.

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