Photo by Rob Harris

The Everyday and Extraordinary

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition

The notion of the found object as artistic material, content and subject-matter provides the inspiration for The Everyday and Extraordinary, an exhibition presenting a Wunderkammer of modern and contemporary artworks drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The show brings together a fusion of materials, processes and innovative ideas, celebrating the physicality of objects in this predominantly digital age.

Found objects or ‘objet trouvé’ provide infinite inspiration for artists. When, in 1913, Marcel Duchamp used a found object in his work, he introduced the term ‘ready-made’ to art. Whether modified, presented in a new context or left unchanged found objects have had an enduring impact on artistic practice, with artists appropriating and transforming objects in many ways to communicate particular ideas or concepts. Surrealists used ‘the everyday’ as an invocation of humour and satire whilst Pop Artists directly appropriated items from popular culture. Techniques of the ready-made continue to engage and inspire contemporary artists today.

In a bright, immersive and eclectic environment, The Everyday and Extraordinary celebrates the transformation of ordinary objects. Small objects and multiples are presented in a salon-style hang, combined with large sculpture and 2D works arranged as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, evoking a sense of playfulness, excitement and wonder.

The Everyday and Extraordinary is a touring exhibition conceived by Birmingham Museums Trust, in partnership with Towner Art Gallery as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19.


  • Tony Cragg, New Stones – Newton’s Tones, 1978, plastic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist
  • Anya Gallaccio, Preserve (Chateau), 1995. © The artist. Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Mixed media wall mounted construction. Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme on behalf of the Towner Art Gallery, with funds from the Arts Council Lottery the Friends of the Towner, Eastbourne Borough Council, Towner Contemporary Art Fund Committee and donations.
  • Kurt Hickson, Red, White and Blue (2016-2017) © The Artist
  • Jordan Baseman, Based on Actual Events, 1995, teeth and dental acrylic. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London; © the artist. Gift of Charles Saatchi 2002
  • Tim Head, Levity I, 1978, black & white photograph (edition of 6). Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist
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