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Swansea arts professional helps UK treasures go on tour

A Swansea arts specialist has collaborated with the world-famous British Museum to create a unique exhibition.

Katy Freer, exhibitions officer at Swansea Council’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, is a co-curator of British Museum touring exhibition Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now. It will feature works by high-profile talents such as David Hockney, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry.

The in-depth look at contemporary drawing over the past 50 years opened at the British Museum on September 12 and will go on tour to Durham, Orkney and South Yorkshire. It is due to show at the Glynn Vivian next year (note: 2020) from mid-September to late November. 

Katy Freer said: “It has been a delight to work on Pushing paper. I was able to work in the wonderful British Museum Study Room, meet curators from across the UK and take part in fascinating discussions.

“At a time when regional venues can struggle with funding, this collaboration with the British Museum will bring some fantastic works to Swansea. It will be great to see them with works from our own collection.”

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “It’s wonderful to see our staff working on a UK-wide level like this – I applaud Katy for this collaboration.

“Swansea has exceptional talent, knowledge and facilities – and that’s why we’re able to help produce a show like this. The exhibition has already had national media exposure.

“It’s another achievement that helps us celebrate Swansea’s first half century as a city.”

Katy Freer has worked at the Glynn Vivian for 14 years. Before that, she worked as graphic designer for a book publisher.

Pushing paper is the first time the British Museum has co-curated an exhibition with partner museums from around the UK to display and then tour contemporary artworks from its Prints and Drawings collection.

The exhibition illustrates how artists experiment with the power of paper to express their ideas, pushing the medium in new directions.

It highlights the breadth and quality of the Museum’s collection of modern art, as well as its global scope.

The exhibition of 56 works showcases the diversity of contemporary drawing over the past half century, with graphic work by artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Sol LeWitt and Anish Kapoor.

There are also works by emerging artists, with many of these pieces being on public display for the first time. The exhibition has been generously supported by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.

Isabel Seligman, Bridget Riley Art Foundation Curator of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, said: “Over the past 50 years the definition of drawing has continually expanded, pushing the limits of what a drawing can mean and be.

“Drawings in the exhibition encroach on territories traditionally associated with mediums including sculpture, land art and even performance. This exciting opportunity to see a lesser-known aspect of the British Museum’s collection demonstrates the significance of drawing to some of the most important contemporary artists from across the globe.” 

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum said: “It is wonderful that the collaborative conception of Pushing paper gives the opportunity for curators and visitors around the UK to benefit from this collective way of working.” 

Grayson Perry, Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of University of the Arts London, said: “Since the dawn of time, drawing has been and still is, a vital and central component of visual art. How else would I get an image out of my head and into the world?!”