Hatton Gallery wins The Hallett Independent Acquisitions Award

15 May 2017

Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy with Rob Airey, Keeper of Art at the Hatton Gallery

The Hatton Gallery at Newcastle University’s impressive print collection has been expanded after winning The Hallett Independent Acquisitions Award.

Worth £8000, it has enabled the Hatton to acquire significant works at the London Original Print Fair (LOPF).

The award is a joint initiative between LOPF and Hallett Independent, brokers specialising in fine art and heritage insurance. It exists to celebrate the wealth of print collections across the country and to encourage curators of these collections to engage with the Fair and with the printmakers of today.

The Hatton was shortlisted for the prize alongside Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury; New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester; Russell-Cotes Gallery, Bournemouth and the University of Dundee Museum Collection.

Rob Airey, Keeper of Art at the Hatton Gallery, intended to use the prize to buy one key print for the collection, but having seen the huge variety on offer he felt that the award could stimulate the growth of the collection in different areas. Careful selection and generous support from the exhibiting galleries meant the Hatton Gallery was able to purchase 14 significant works for its collection.

The Hatton acquired a recent set of screenprints by Bruce McLean (b.1944), a leading figure in British art since the 1960s. Titled Mixed Grillings, the series of works draws explicitly on narratives within McLean’s autobiography.

Five prints by Bronwen Sleigh (b.1980) were acquired. Sleigh graduated from the Royal College of Art printmaking course in 2008. Based in Glasgow, her etchings are inspired by architecture, urban spaces and environments.

The award enabled the gallery to acquire a lithograph by Fred Uhlman, an artist who is already significantly represented in the Hatton collection. Titled The Tower of London (1953), the lithograph was created for the Coronation Suite, a series of 40 prints mainly created by tutors and past students of the Royal College of Art celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

In addition to these two significant groups of works, the Hatton has also been able to add important individual works to their existing holdings of prints by Paula Rego and Joe Tilson, and introduce the first work by Richard Smith to the gallery collection.

The Hatton Gallery is currently closed for a £3.8 million redevelopment supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Hatton plans to incorporate prints acquired at the LOPF in its exhibition programme when they reopen in autumn 2017.

Christopher Le Brun, president of the Royal Academy, said: “It was a varied shortlist with a wide range of interests from old master prints to contemporary portfolios. The judges all agree that regional and university collections deserve support for the good they do in continuing to conserve and promote the visual arts in occasionally adverse circumstances. We wish we could reward them all.”

Helen Rosslyn, award judge and director of London Original Print Fair (LOPF), said: “The Hatton Gallery made a very good case for why printmaking is both a central part of their historic collection and the focus of their current collecting.”

Rob Airey, Keeper of Art at the Hatton Gallery, said: “I’m delighted that the Hatton Gallery has been awarded The Hallett Independent Acquisitions Award. This wonderful opportunity has allowed us to substantially extend both our contemporary and more historical print collection.”

Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University, said: “This award recognises the importance of the Hatton’s print collection, which is a significant research resource for our students and staff at the University as well as an important component of many of our public exhibitions.”

Bronwen Sleigh, Avenue L'estadi I Bruce McLean. Courtesy CCA Galleries
Joe Tilson, Lips Richard Smith