6E Text

For many of us, digital technology is an essential part of our lives. In fact, most people under 40 cannot remember life without it. And so, the last two prints of this group were made entirely digitally and are notably different from the hand made ones. In this print the images partially mimic an old-fashioned art gallery, whilst in the final one they remain true to their digital form and context.

The 2019 general election for Leicester and Leicestershire went with national trends. The city retained its three Labour seats, albeit with lower majorities, whilst the county remained Conservative. Two sitting MP’s, Liz Tindall (centre left) and Jon Ashworth (bottom centre) (all MP images Chris McAndrew), held their seats, but with a swing against Tindall of 11.12% since 2017, and against Ashworth of 6.5%.

Keith Vaz (bottom right) was MP for Leicester East from 1987 to 2019. Hugely popular amongst his supporters, his suspension from parliament after a three-year investigation, on the grounds that he expressed a willingness to buy Class A drugs for others to use, forced his resignation. He was replaced by Claudia Webbe (centre right), (photo Daily Mail), who held the seat despite a constituency swing of 16.22% against the Labour Party. Leicester-born, but better known as a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and a member of the Labour National Executive Council, Webbe is one of 104 women Labour MP’s who for the first time outnumber their 98 male Labour colleagues in the House of Commons.

Sir Peter Soulsby (centre) was elected Mayor of Leicester in May 2011. He previously served as Labour Leader of Leicester City Council from 1981 to 1994 and from 1996 to 1999. An indefatigable advocate for the city, he works with the Labour Council to deliver on a wide range of measures such as ‘Connecting Leicester’ ‘to make it easier to move from on area of the city to another’.

The arts are vibrant in Leicester but are repeatedly subject to cuts. In 2019 four curatorial posts were removed from the museum service. The German Expressionism Collection, much of which is held on loan from the extended Hess Family, is now without a specialist or dedicated curator. This matters, as whilst the remit of the council and the museums service is to become more user focussed, an important collection like German Expressionism actually requires more than just visitors. This valuable and important collection is not as well or widely known as it should be. For the collection to gain international status, it needs to have its catalogue raisonné completed, (this is a detailed inventory of all it holds). This project was started but is now on hold. It needs expertise to grow the collection through bequests and donations, to negotiate loans, to generate exhibitions and educational events, and create interpretative material. A curator should also be attending conferences and other events raising the profile of the collection. This all requires a level of knowledge and capability which cannot just be ‘piloted in’ as and when required. It is a pity that when considering the cuts, the council did not look elsewhere for funding to support curating German Expressionism; to trusts and foundations, philanthropists or business.

The intervention by Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Porter suggesting selling a Francis Bacon painting owned by New Walk museum because he dislikes it, is thought-provoking in the light of the history discussed in this exhibition and the holdings of the museum. On Porter’s declaration of interests on the Leicester council website, he lists himself as a self-employed sculptor working on environmental and conceptual work.

Given the level of curatorial cuts and problems of the budget It has been a pleasant surprise to see a provisional sum allocated for a new contemporary art space within New Walk.