Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The ING Art Collection

On Thursday, the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries in London and we find out who has won the ING Purchase Prize this year.

I wonder how many people think about what that actually means for the work that wins the prize - in a competition which is essentially about the choices which six very different individuals make about the art they like to see.

Recently I was invited to view the ING Art Collection in their London Offices on London Wall and learned a little bit more about the connection between banking and art from one of the archivists Lara Webb.

The art acquired through the ING Purchase Prize will find its way on to the walls of the UK offices of ING at 60 London Wall in the City of London.  It will join a collection of British Figurative Art.

ING Art Collection - London

ING Art Collection - United Kingdom
The ING company has a really strong corporate focus on art worldwide.  Sponsorship of the arts is one way in which fulfils its business principles and what it sees as its wider corporate responsibilities

There are two websites which relate to the Art Collections which ING cares for

  • the ING Art Collection - the collection is spread between its offices across the world.  This is the link to the collection in the London Offices which is particularly strong in having a collection of 18th and 19th century watercolours collection and modern figurative British art.
  • the Barings Bank Archive Art Collection - Barings Bank is no more having been taken over by ING in 1995.  However their archive forms part of the overall collection and its art collection goes back to 1762.  It contains a group of eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century portraits of individuals associated with Barings. The collection illustrates the development of English portraiture over 150 years from the end of the eighteenth century.
The artwork has a functional purpose in that it furnishes the meeting rooms where important business is conducted.  The collecting policy is derived from the personal preferences of those involved with acquisition and the need for the art to be compatible with an office environment - but as ever is wholly dependent on what comes up in the sales.  Most of the acquisitions in the UK were made during the 70s-90s.

The artwork comprises different focused collections of artwork on:
Their collection also includes the biggest and most impressive contemporary textile banner hangingthat I think I've ever seen.  I learned that the textile - of leaping salmon by Polly Hope - which hangs down through several floors of the central atrium, went with the building and had been commissioned in the early 90s by its previous occupants - Scottish Widows (hence the salmon).

Every year, the ING Purchase Prize adds one work to this collection.  It's also a collector's decision in the sense that it's made by representatives of the bank.

Exhibitions of Contemporary Artwork

When I visited, there were two art exhibitions in the main lobby area of meeting rooms area where most of the art is on display.  One related to their very active ING Art Club and the other was of work by one of my favourite watercolour artists Cheryl Fountain - who had been acting as tutor to the art club.

Below you can see three of her works which were in the exhibition - note the complexity and colour combinations.  I'd like to thank both Lara and Cheryl for allowing me to show them on the blog,  If you ever get a chance to see Cheryl's still life paintings I do urge you to do so as her work is very complex, quite unique and hugely impressive.  It's also very much a testament to the need to start a collection of personal objects for still life paintings!

Still Life Paintings in Watercolour by Cheryl Fountain
I came away feeling as if seeing the artwork in the collection helped me to understand much better some of the reasons behind the choice of the paintings which have won the ING Purchase Prize in recent years.  The recent winners looked very much part of the collection.

It's certainly the case that the contemporary figurative art that wins the ING Discerning Eye Prize needs to be able to hold its own with the other paintings in this collection.


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