With the exhibition Drawing On… The Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art attracting scores of visitors to the RWA this spring we chat to Jo Baring the Curator for The Ingram Collection.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role at The Ingram Collection?
I am the advisor to The Ingram Collection of Modern British & Contemporary Art. Having worked in the art world for nearly 15 years, most recently as a Director of Christie’s UK, I was well aware of Chris and The Ingram Collection. I’m absolutely delighted to work with Chris on The Collection. My favourite thing about advising for this collection is the complete variety – being the one of the largest privately owned, publicly exhibited art collections in the country, the sheer breadth of what we do is hugely exciting – from major loans to public institutions, through to supporting art projects featuring people in the criminal justice system, or youngsters.
Who are your favourite artists in The Ingram Collection?
The Ingram Collection contains nearly 650 works of art, ranging from traditional figurative paintings right through to film and installations. It’s hard for me to pick favourites! When I’m working on a loan from The Collection for exhibition, for example Eric Ravilious at The Dulwich Picture Gallery, I immerse myself in that artist – and they become my current favourite. But it changes all the time! I particularly love sculpture, and I would pick out Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as sculptors in The Ingram Collection whose work I find especially interesting.
If you could acquire one painting, money no object, what would it be?
It would be Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I studied it during my MA at the Courtauld and really believe it was a defining moment in the development of modernism.
Apart from Drawn and Drawing On… What is the last exhibition you saw and has affect your collecting policy/approach to the collection?
Chris and I try to see as many shows as possible. We are particularly drawn to young artists. I saw the Bloomberg New Contemporaries show at the ICA and bought two pieces for The Collection there. They are by a young artist called Miroslav Pomichal whom we saw first at his Wimbledon Fine Art degree show. His paintings were absolute stand outs. It’s very rewarding to get to know young artists and we try to support them as often as possible.
Is there a piece you particularly liked from the Drawn Exhibition if so what is it you like about that piece?
Visiting the Drawn exhibition was so enjoyable, and you realise the depth of talent around. There were quite a few pieces I’d very happily have taken home with me! But I particularly liked Morning Breeze by Sally Mclaren – I loved the soft depiction of movement here. The artist has also managed to capture a feeling of calm and I would very happily live with this piece!
For Drawing On it would have to be the watercolours by Edward Burra. Burra is one of my favourite artists of the 20th Century – his artistic vision is unique and the importance and influence of his work cannot be overstated. His watercolours are some of the most significant pieces in The Ingram Collection.
What exciting things are happening with The Ingram Collection in the next 12 months?
My brief is to make The Ingram Collection as publicly accessible as possible. We currently have over 150 items from The Collection out on public display, at over 15 different locations around the Country. There are more exhibitions and loans planned for 2015 and 2016. We are planning some innovative loans and want to develop our work with young artistic talent and so called ‘outsider’ artists. Lots going on!
Where do you think Drawing is headed, what do you think it will look like in 10 years’ time?
Mel Gooding gave a very insightful speech when he opened the shows in March. He said that drawing is integral to the human condition – and you only have to look at way children pick up a crayon to see how important mark making is to us. The Ingram Collection contains many drawings – for example when buying a monumental sculpture we endeavour to buy the preparatory drawings for the piece, and the same for oil paintings and worked up watercolours. We recently visited The Royal Drawing School which does fantastic work with young artists and I certainly hope to see many more young people being encouraged to draw.