A Government Art Collection/Outset Annual Commission
Still Life with Artificial Flowers is an intricate print that evokes a snapshot of the artist’s mother’s front room in Birmingham. Hurvin Anderson graduated from Wimbledon School of Art in 1994 and his distinct painting style is informed both by British painters such as Leon Kossoff, Michael Andrews and David Hockney as well as a generation of Black British artists, Sonia Boyce, Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper. The youngest of eight siblings, Anderson was the only child not to be born in Jamaica, instilling an interest in this dual identity that plays throughout his work.
For the print commission, Anderson has worked with The Print Studio’s Kip Gresham and Alan Grabham to replicate sourced and saved fabrics and wallpapers. The thirteen base colours in the print are built up from 15 stencils over 21 layers. The rich use of pattern to flatten and confuse the space references the techniques of Henri Matisse.
The vase shown belongs to Anderson’s mother, a prized possession that travelled with her from Jamaica becoming something of an iconic item. Set against the warm, deep red, flocked wallpaper and intricate lace doilies Anderson’s interest lies in the heavily patterned ‘kitsch’ aesthetic and its nod to ‘pop’ culture, elevating inexpensive everyday items. The reverence of these items are indicators of luxury and comfort, marking the front room as the best room in the house.
Artificial flowers (in a glass vase) are mentioned in Michael McMillan and Stuart Hall’s book The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home as one of the listed ‘top ten’ items found in a West Indian family front room. A place of pride and display; the plastic and fabric flowers never wilting in gilt rimmed vases, the scene depicted is both a homage to the aesthetics of the front room and an interior that will be familiar to many second and third generation migrant families.
As the first TenTen commission, fifteen prints will be framed and displayed in British embassies and residencies across the world.