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See inside the Government Art Collection

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Philippa Martin

Government Art Collection (GAC) curator

Government Art Collection (GAC) curator Philippa Martin explains how you can come and see works of art from the GAC this weekend, including a specially-created display of London views from the river, as part of the annual Open House London event.

Open House London is an annual weekend event, when more than 700 London buildings throw open their doors to the public without charge. This year, people will be able to enjoy a variety of attractions across the capital this weekend – on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September.
The Government Art Collection is one of the hundreds of organisations taking part by hosting a series of public tours of the GAC building, near Tottenham Court Road. In honour of this year’s theme, ‘The Changing Face of London’, we have created a display of views of London from the River Thames across the centuries.
View of Richmond Park from Twickenham Park by Peter Tillemans

These include a View of Richmond Park from Twickenham Park, dating from c.1720, by the Flemish émigré painter Peter Tillemans (c.1684–1734). Tillemans’ landscape (shown above) shows several large mansion houses lining the river, most of which have long since been demolished.
Another painting by Henry Pether, who came from a family of painters specialising in moonlit scenes, shows a detailed view of the Houses of Parliament from the Thames by Moonlight (1862¬–65), a contrast to the broad sweeps of black paint used by John Virtue in his Landscape No. 662 (2003) depicting St Paul’s Cathedral.
People are shown around the GACA reminder of the events of London 2012 is seen in Richard Wilson’s Slice of Reality (1999), a mixed media work which includes the O2 Dome (or North Greenwich Arena), a venue for basketball, wheelchair basketball and gymnastics throughout the Games.
GAC staff will lead the tours and explain how the Collection was formed, its development and how it functions today. As well as the display of London views, tours will offer a chance to see paintings in the Racking Area and to visit the Workshop and find out what happens there.
Each tour will take place on the hour between 10am and 5pm (the last tour begins at 4pm) and last for about 45 minutes. It’s free to come along, but essential to book in advance as there are a limited number of places. To secure your place, call us on 020 7580 9120 or email gac@culture.gov.uk.

Images courtesy Government Art Collection. Painting: Peter Tillemans, View of Richmond Park from Twickenham Park, oil on canvas, GAC 3086.

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