Visitors Become Part Of A National Gallery Artwork – Huge New Textile Ceiling By Artist In Residence

Visitors become part of a new work of art at the National Gallery from today (13 September 2023). As part of an installation on the floor of one of its most imposing rooms they are invited to recline and admire a dramatic new 25-by-6-metre textile sculpture on the ceiling. 

At the same time, through a new audio work, they can hear field recordings and everyday voices of Trafalgar Square connecting the inside of the Gallery with the world outside its front door. 

The installations are by Artist in Residence Céline Condorelli who is putting the Gallery’s visitors and its various behind-the-scenes activities at the heart of a new exhibition in Room 31 of the Main Floor Galleries (Céline Condorelli Pentimenti (The Corrections), 13 September 2023 – 7 January 2024.)  

Condorelli has intervened in the fabric of the building itself, introducing new works inspired by the various forms of seeing and interacting with paintings in the Gallery’s iconic collections.

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Céline Condorelli at the National Gallery (Photo: National Gallery, London)

Based on research conducted since the beginning of the one-year residency, Céline Condorelli’s new installations respond to how the historic building has served its visitors through two centuries of work and the decisions by which pictures have been displayed, conserved, catalogued, and framed. 

In focusing also on how visitors engage with art and spaces, Condorelli has reflected on the variety of gazes found in the Gallery, both inside and out. Located as it is between the bustling activity of Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, with their strong traditions of social protest and entertainment, Condorelli celebrates the tension between the Gallery’s symbolic role in public space and as a place of sanctuary.

With an interest in the visitor’s experience of looking at art, Condorelli, has spent many hours during her residency looking through Gallery archives and talking to staff. She has been fascinated by the changes over time such as the history of furnishings and picture hangings, the use of carpets for children to sit on during storytelling activities, and the development of scanning and imaging technologies pioneered by the Gallery’s scientific department. She has also drawn on her own experiences alone in the galleries including at night when the sound of buskers have come up through the wrought iron grates in the floors.  

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Bringing the outside of the National Gallery inside with sounds of Trafalgar Square and new ways of looking: Céline Condorelli’s Pentimenti (The Corrections) in Room 31 of the National Gallery   

Céline Condorelli, who lives and works in London, is the National Gallery’s Artist in Residence for 2023. Her work addresses the boundaries between public and private, art and function, work and leisure, in order to reimagine what culture and society can be, and the role of artists within them. Using sculptures, architecture and installations, both within museums and galleries but also in the public realm, Condorelli’s practice highlights the action of exhibiting itself, in its material and temporal nature. 

She is the third Artist in Residence to be chosen since the launch of the Gallery’s new Modern and Contemporary Programme, following the appointment of Rosalind Nashashibi in 2019 and Ali Cherri in 2021. The award is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society, generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull, while the UK Partner Museum for this residency is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter (RAMM). 

Condorelli has been invited to respond to works in the collections of the National Gallery and RAMM. She began her residency in September 2022 and has worked over the course of a year in the National Gallery’s on-site artist’s studio, benefiting from the close proximity to the collection and archives. This will culminate in a publication and a display featuring Condorelli’s work at the National Gallery. With the support of the Contemporary Art Society, one of the works relating to the residency will enter RAMM’s collection.   

The jury that selected Condorelli for the residency was impressed by her ability to engage a range of audiences through her imaginative architectural interventions in gallery spaces, while drawing attention to materials and the notions of leisure and labour in society. 

Céline Condorelli says: ‘I feel hugely honoured to have been invited to be artist in residence at the National Gallery. Being given the opportunity to spend time in the company of such a rich collection is incredible, and I look forward to getting to know the museum inside and out. This feels like an important moment to address cultural institutions and their social responsibilities with fresh eyes, as well as the role of artists within them.’

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, says: ‘Céline’s thoughtful and striking objects and installations provide new insights into our collections and the life and activity of our museums.’

The National Gallery Artist in Residence is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society.

Programme sponsored by Hiscox 

Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberg
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM. Contact: art (@) martincid (.) com
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