New major Acquisition by contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley
(17 May 2021)
Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) is an established and celebrated visual artist, best known for his portraits that place black men and women in traditional settings of original historical, religious or mythological portraits. Saint Adelaide (2014) is the first stained glass artwork by Kehinde Wiley to enter a public art collection in the world.
Saint Adelaide is a striking larger-than-life stained glass portrait of a young black man standing proud within a gothic frame, measuring over 2.5m high and 1m wide. The artwork is a major addition to the Stained Glass Museum’s collection of contemporary stained glass, and has been purchased for the museum’s permanent collection with the help of Art Fund and Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Arts Council England/SHARE Museums East Acquisitions Fund.
Saint Adelaide is one of a series of Wiley’s freestanding stained glass panels depicting contemporary portraits of young black residents of Brooklyn, NY, and one of the first stained glass works to be made to Wiley’s designs. These contemporary stained glass panels mimic the form, pose, positioning and framing of carefully-selected historic stained glass windows, placing contemporary portraits of black men in the place of traditional saints.
Director and Curator of the Museum Jasmine Allen, commented, “Since I first saw Wiley’s stained glass portraits at an exhibition in Paris in January 2017, I have wanted to acquire a panel for the museum’s permanent collection. In a simple but powerful way Wiley’s art addresses the representation of young black men in contemporary culture and challenges the conventions of western art. ‘Saint Adelaide’ is also the museum’s first acquisition by a known queer black artist. As cultural institutions in the UK are rightly beginning to confront our colonial past and its legacy today, this acquisition enables us to explore and question attitudes towards race, gender and religion in stained glass. I hope our visitors agree that it is a positive and powerful artwork.”
Following the success of Wiley’s freestanding stained glass portraits made between 2014 and 2016, he recently completed his first site-specific stained glass artwork – a stained glass ceiling commissioned for a railway station in New York, installed in January 2021. Only a handful of Wiley’s artworks can be seen in the UK, and The National Gallery, London, will host an exhibition of Wiley’s works in autumn 2021.
Saint Adelaide is now on permanent display in the main gallery of The Stained Glass Museum, located on an upper level of Ely Cathedral. The Stained Glass Museum reopens on Tuesday 18 May. Standard admission to the museum is £4.50 for adults, children are free. Entry is free for National Art Pass holders.
Saint Adelaide has been acquired with support from the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, SHARE Museums East/Arts Council England Acquisitions Grant.
Notes to Editors
About The Stained Glass Museum
• The Stained Glass Museum is the United Kingdom’s only museum dedicated to the art of stained glass.
• The museum is located on an upper level (the south triforium) of Ely Cathedral, in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The museum reopens to the public on Tuesday 18 May 2021, and is open to visitors Tuesday-Saturdays, 10am-3.30pm.
• The museum cares for an internationally significant collection of windows spanning eight centuries, illustrating the development of the art from the medieval period to the present day.
• The museum is a small independent fully accredited museum and registered charity no. 1169842. The museum’s Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.
• Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes.
• In response to Covid-19 Art Fund has made £2 million in adapted funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working.
• Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 130,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine.
• Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. In a unique edition of the prize for 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums are facing by selecting five winners and increasing the prize money to £200,000. The winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne
• Visit www.artfund.org
The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund
• The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
• It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
• The annual grants budget, currently £724,000, is provided by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding
• Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 150 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.
• Visit the website www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund
SHARE Museums East New Acquisitions Fund
• SHARE Museums East is funded by Arts Council England. Its mission is to support excellence, resilience and cooperative working in museums in the East of England.
• SHARE delivers small grants, training and development programmes for museums throughout the region to help them build capacity, improve skills and engage with audiences.
• Launched in 2020, SHARE’s New Acquisitions Fund supported museums to develop their collections. Its aim was to help museums to improve the representation and diversity of the stories they represent. We wanted museums to be able to provide a more accurate, balanced and inclusive interpretation of the past and the present, becoming more relevant as a result. www.sharemuseumseast.org.uk/project/acquisition-grants/
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