Press Release: 28 leading artists from the North of England on display at Contemporary Art Society

7 October 2013 By
Image: Leo Fitzmaurice, Duster Drawing (2012), biro on paper, 0.5 x 20 x 25cm. Image courtesy the artist.

For immediate release, 7.10.13

Tip of The Iceberg: Art From Up North
4 October 2013 – 3 January 2014

For over 100 years, the Contemporary Art Society has worked to identify emerging talent and provide support for artists from all over the UK. The organisation’s latest exhibition at 59 Central Street, Tip of the Iceberg, showcases a selection of works by artists based in the North of England. Curated by Mark Doyle and Rebecca Morrill of Contemporary Art Society North, the display aims to bring these artists to the attention of a broader audience.

Tip of the Iceberg presents a selection of work by around half of the North-based artists who have participated in the Contemporary Art Society North programme since it launched in 2009. There are over 40 works on display by 28 artists aged from their twenties to their sixties. Some of these artists were born and raised in the North, others have returned to the North, and a number have relocated to the North from elsewhere. Media ranges from painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, to film and installation.

Featured artists include Iain Andrews, Eric Bainbridge, Catherine Bertola, Andrew Bracey, Pavel Büchler, Tony Charles, James Clarkson, Rachael Clewlow, Samantha Donnelly, Graham Dolphin, Leo Fitzmaurice, Susie Green, Dave Griffiths, Mary Griffiths, Matthew Houlding, Nick Kennedy, Laura Lancaster, Harry Meadley, Paul Merrick, Tim Machin, Anne Vibeke Mou, Michael Mulvihill, Emily Speed, David Steans, Cecilia Stenbom, Matt Stokes, Imogen Stidworthy and Rafal Topolewski.

The inclusion of work by an older generation alongside young, emerging talent reflects the ecology of the North where established artists like Bainbridge, Buchler and Stidworthy have accepted teaching posts and are playing a lead role in attracting and supporting the development of a younger generation of artists.

For all press enquiries, contact:
Jenny Prytherch, Communications Manager
+44 (0)20 7017 8412

Notes to Editors:


The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.

Forthcoming displays at Contemporary Art Society, 59 Central Street:

*The Eric & Jean Cass Gift (16 Oct – 22 Nov)

*Laure Prouvost (4 Dec – 17 Jan), Artist Talk 12 Dec

*Simon Fujiwara (29 Jan – 28 Feb), Artist Talk 30 January

*PRESS BRIEFING (29 Jan, 9am – 10am)
An exclusive press preview of our Simon Fujiwara display and an opportunity to find out about our displays and initiatives from February 2014. We will be joined by Simon Fujiwara as well as new Contemporary Art Society Director Caroline Douglas. For interview requests for Caroline Douglas, please contact

Key facts about Contemporary Art Society acquisitions:

The Contemporary Art Society is the leading organisation for identifying emerging talent in the UK and has donated many ‘firsts’ to museums across the country throughout its illustrious history, including the first works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon and, more recently, the first works by Damien Hirst, Elizabeth Price and 2013 Turner Prize nominee Laure Prouvost.

  • 1910 Contemporary Art Society makes its first purchase, Augustus John’s Smiling Woman, which was later presented to Tate in 1917
  • 1917 Contemporary Art Society gifts Paul Gauguin’s Tahitians to Tate
  • 1933 Contemporary Art Society gifts Pablo Picasso’s Flowers to Tate – the first Picasso ever to be acquired by Tate
  • 1946 The first work by Francis Bacon is purchased, Figure Study II
  • 1967 Henry Moore’s Knife Edge – Two Piece presented to the City of Westminster and permanently sited in Abingdon Street Gardens, London W1
  • 1988 Mark Wallinger’s Lost Horizon is gifted to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
  • 1992 Damien Hirst’s Forms Without Life is gifted to Tate – the first Hirst ever to be donated to Tate
  • This year (2013-4) the Contemporary Art Society expects to place art worth in excess of £4million into public collections across the UK with the support of our patrons and other stakeholders.


Iain Andrews (b.1974, Sutton Coalfield, lives and works in Manchester) is perhaps best known for his paintings which draw on art history and his own rich imagination for their content and feature figures and forms which hover on the verge of abstraction. On first sight these works appear to have been executed quickly in an intuitive and gestural manner, but closer inspection reveals an array of different techniques and styles. In recent years, Andrews has expanded his practice to include a series of etchings on found desks which draw on the imagery in his paintings but also his work as an art psychotherapist.

Andrew Bracey (b.1978, Manchester, lives and works in Lincoln) has a practice that hovers on the fringes of painting as it crosses over and expands into installation, sculpture, drawing and animation. He often uses existing sites and the readymade as alternatives to the traditional canvas support for painting, creating tensions between the hand-made and the man-made.  Bracey is intrigued by the visual saturation of contemporary life. Work is often displayed on mass, with hundreds of individual elements combining to create a whole, as a way of interpreting contemporary lifestyle. His work often reflects how society has re-configured ways of viewing and processing mass-information in a variety of contexts, from the Sunday newspaper to walking down the high street.

Pavel Büchler (b. 1952, Prague, lives and works in Manchester) defines his practice as “making nothing happen.” He is committed to the catalytic nature of art, its potential to draw attention to the obvious and revealing it as ultimately strange. Despite having originally trained and practiced as a graphic designer, Büchler rarely makes objects and prefers the economy of the found and the readymade to provoke new interpretations and to discover overlooked poetic and aesthetic capacities. His works often refer to modern philosophy, film, literature and art. These references are never direct quotations, nor does the work solely rely on them. Rather, they are departure points from which imagination may proceed towards uncertain destination.

Rachael Clewlow  (b.1984, Middlesbrough, lives and works in Newcastle) makes rigorous and detailed recordings of all her journeys in notebooks, detailing dates, times and the things that catch her attention as she moves. This meticulous information is transferred onto intricate drawings and paintings, often in the form of maps. With a language of symbols and colours that is deliberately presented without a key, the maps become useless as functioning objects and betray their potential functionality and purpose. Yet her bewildering dexterity and the precision of paint application draws the viewer to scrutinise the work more closely, lending importance to surface, materials, detail and quality of finish.

Leo Fitzmaurice’s (b.1963, Shropshire, lives and works in Liverpool) work is characterised by a desire to reorganise the everyday and familiar. He re-presents our world to make us look again at what we take for granted. In his work there is often an instant recognition combined with a playful delight as the familiar is unsettled. Duster and J-Cloth came about when he noticed that many cloths are, visually speaking, lines on a plane – they are, in effect, folded drawings. The two works he is showing were made to express this observation.

Laura Lancaster (b.1979, Hartlepool, lives and works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) is best known for her figurative paintings, drawings and collages based on anonymous found photographs, which she locates in flea markets and online auctions. Her work plays with the functional intent of the photographs, which were not intended as works of art but for preservation of time and memory. The photos were however, discarded or separated from their original owner. Choosing compositions with curious formal qualities and an intense relationship between subject and viewer, Lancaster brings these dead images back to life and lends them a gravitas and permanence not afforded the source material. More recently, Lancaster has created paintings based on the handwritten texts found on the borders or reverse sides of photographs.

Matt Stokes (b.1973, Penzance, lives and works in Blaydon and Newcastle-upon-Tyne) has an artistic practice that stems from a long-term inquiry into subcultures, particularly musical ones. He is interested in the way music provides a sense of collectivity, acting as a catalyst for particular groups to form, shaping and influencing people’s lives and identities. In meticulous research, he immerses himself in specific contexts and gets involved with the community of a subculture, and in this way, manages to convey their worlds in a manner that is not only representative, but also personal, celebratory and expressive. From his long-term research, in which he collects impressions, stories, and materials, he creates films, installations and events that take on their own conceptual and aesthetic life.