Exploring Contemporary Art - British Art Show 8

What is the British Art Show?

The British Art Show is an exhibition held every five years to showcase British contemporary art. It has been organised by the Hayward Gallery since 1979. 

Previous exhibitions have included artists such as Sarah Lucas, Fiona Rae, Vong Phaophanit, Lesley Sanderson, Damien Hirst and Chris Ofili.

The show is hosted in different venues around the country; in 2010 BAS7 visited 12 cities and had over 425,000 visitors. The 2015 British Art Show will tour Leeds, Edinburgh, Norfolk and Southampton.

How are the works chosen?

Two or three curators, this year Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, are chosen for their knowledge of the ways in which artists are working. They identified artists who interest them during a one-year selection process. 

This year’s show includes 40 artists, many of whom have created new art works for the exhibition. These artists have a connection with Britain, or may have worked in Britain, but not all are of British nationality. 

What is the theme of the exhibition?

While selecting the artists, the curators began exploring different ideas. For example, they thought about the experience of objects in the virtual and real worlds, alongside the processes used to make art works. These ideas led them to make connections between the artists.

The Hayward Gallery website (see links below) describes BAS8 as follows: 

‘The exhibition reflects on the status of the object at a time of increasing convergence between the real and the virtual.’ 

These ideas were influenced by the theories of philosopher Graham Harman, who explores ‘object ontology’ – how objects give us knowledge. (Find out more about Graham Harman via the link below.)

The exhibition may raise questions such as, has our increasing use of digital technology changed the way we see the world? Are physical objects more important now that we focus so much on the virtual? Every visitor will perceive their own themes and make their own connections. 

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

Scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Leeds Art Gallery | 
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