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Towner Art Gallery presents The Everyday and Extraordinary

Towner Art Gallery is delighted to announce The Everyday and Extraordinary, a wide-ranging exhibition exploring the found object in modern and contemporary art. With work by over fifty international artists, the exhibition is a rich, playful and immersive celebration of the physicality of the object in our digital age, a cabinet of curiosities that spills out of Towner’s first floor gallery and into the public areas beyond.

Selected from the Arts Council Collection with works from the New Art Gallery Walsall and Towner’s own collection, The Everyday and Extraordinary looks at the object as material, inspiration and subject in sculpture, painting, print, photography and animation from the last seven decades.

The exhibition draws on a lineage that begins with the nineteenth century poet Comte de Lautréamont whose descriptions of extraordinary juxtapositions of unrelated imagery had a major influence on Surrealism. Marcel Duchamp later designated the found object as ‘ready-made’ art in 1913 and in the 1960s Andy Warhol democratised art through popular culture. These concepts all unite in Philip Core’s painting The Chance Meeting on an Operating Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella: Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp (1978), providing the context for The Everyday and Extraordinary.


In Tony Cragg’s New Stones, Newton’s Tones a shimmering rainbow-toned floor artwork is created from everyday objects collected by Cragg in just a few hours in May 1978. Bill Woodrow’s Crow and Carrion (1981), features a crow that was once a folding black umbrella, pecking at an arm and hand formed from another. Yoko Ono’s anti-war beliefs are revealed in her sculpture All White Chess Set, which lacking black pieces, suggests that players have to work together to continue the game. Hew Locke questions British colonisation, capital wealth and consumption in Jungle Queen II, his silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II created from a dense amalgamation of colourful, cheaply sourced everyday objects. Elizabeth Wright’s investigations of mass-produced consumer goods make the familiar strange and distant in her Pizza Delivery Moped ,enlarged to 145% of its original size.

Visitors encounter The Everyday and Extraordinary immediately on entering Towner where David Batchelor’s neon-dressed found concrete mixer Pink Pimp Mix (2006), sits in the gallery’s front window. On their way upstairs to the first floor, visitors are confronted with Preserve (Chateau), Anya Gallacio’s exploration of decay, temporality and aesthetics in which 100 red gerbera flowers pressed between the wall and a sheet of glass slowly decay during the exhibition. Also situated on the stairwell is Five Heads by Jean-Luc Vilmouth, in which eyeholes are cut into a bucket, a scoop, a jug, a plasterer’s float and a dustpan, transforming them into humorous and mysterious masklike sculptures.

In the main gallery, smaller works created from everyday objects sit beside the larger installations: Gareth Griffith’s small-scale painted sculptures such as Walking Konrad based on the fifteenth-century painting The Synagogue by Konrad Witz, fuses everyday items of plastic; Fiona Banner’s Inside-Out Aviator Glasses have the mirrored lenses attached backwards so that the wearer only ever gets to see themself; Rachel Whiteread’s small door knobs extracted from her iconic inside out sculpture, House; and Magali Reus’ wall-based sculpture Leaves (Harp, January) is one of a series of works that resemble enlarged padlocks, referencing digital calendars or diaries.

The Everyday and Extraordinary presents works by: Hermione Allsopp, Aaron Angell, Cornelia Baltes, Fiona Banner, Jordan Baseman, David Batchelor, Sophie Calle, Patrick Caulfield, Christo, Chris Clinton, Philip Core, Tony Cragg, Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Matthew Darbyshire, Peter Fend, Peter Freeman, Anya Gallaccio, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, Gareth Griffith, Alan Grimwood, Mona Hatoum, Tim Head, Kurt Hickson, Yves Klein, Darren Lago, Michael Landy, Abigail Lane, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Huw Locke, Andrew Logan, Mary Martin, Stuart Middleton, Helen Mirra, Lucia Nogueira, Kazuo Okazaki, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Susan Ormerod, Richard Patterson, Amalia Pica, Magali Reus, Dieter Rot, Nina Saunders, Jane Simpson, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Richard Wentworth, Stefan Wewerka, Max Wigram, Rachel Whiteread, Bill Woodrow and Elizabeth Wright.

The Everyday and Extraordinary is a touring exhibition conceived by Birmingham Museums Trust, in partnership with Towner Art Gallery as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19. It is the sixth exhibition selected by Towner from the Arts Council Collection, following At Altitude; We stared at the Moon from the centre of the Sun curated by Haroon Mirza; A Green and Pleasant Land; Now, Today, Tomorrow and Always; A Certain Kind of Light, and the presentation of the Arts Council Collection’s own touring exhibition, One Day Something Happens.

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