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Reclining visitors to become part of a National Gallery artwork in huge new textile ceiling by artist in residence

Image: Céline Condorelli at the National Gallery (Photo: National Gallery, London)
Image: Céline Condorelli at the National Gallery (Photo: National Gallery, London)

Visitors will become part of a new work of art at the National Gallery - an installation on the floor of one of its most imposing rooms - by being invited to recline and admire a dramatic new 25 x 64 metre textile sculpture on the ceiling.

At the same time, through a new audio work, they will be able to hear field recordings and everyday voices of Trafalgar Square connecting the inside of the Gallery with the world outside its front door.

The installations are by Artist in Residence Céline Condorelli who is putting the Gallery’s visitors and its various behind-the-scenes activities at the heart of a new exhibition (13 September 2023 – 7 January 2024.)

Condorelli will intervene in the fabric of the building itself, introducing new works inspired by the various forms of seeing and interacting with paintings in the Gallery’s iconic collections.

Based on research conducted since the beginning of the one-year residency, Céline Condorelli’s new installations respond to how the historic building has served its visitors through two centuries of work and the decisions by which pictures have been displayed, conserved, catalogued, and framed.

In focusing also on how visitors engage with art and spaces, Condorelli will reflect the variety of gazes found in the Gallery, both inside and out. Located as it is between the bustling activity of Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, with their strong traditions of social protest and entertainment, Condorelli celebrates the tension between the Gallery’s symbolic role in public space and as a place of sanctuary.

With an interest in the visitor’s experience of looking at art, Condorelli, has spent many hours during her residency looking through Gallery archives and talking to staff. She has been fascinated by the changes over time such as the history of furnishings and picture hangings, the use of carpets for children to sit on during storytelling activities, the development of scanning and imaging technologies pioneered by the Gallery’s scientific department, and she has drawn on her own experiences alone in the galleries including at night when the sound of buskers have come up through the wrought iron grates in the floors.

Céline Condorelli, who lives and works in London, is the National Gallery’s Artist in Residence for 2023. Her work addresses the boundaries between public and private, art and function, work and leisure, in order to reimagine what culture and society can be, and the role of artists within them. Using sculptures, architecture and installations, both within museums and galleries but also in the public realm, Condorelli’s practice highlights the action of exhibiting itself, in its material and temporal nature.

She is the third Artist in Residence to be chosen since the launch of the Gallery’s new Modern and Contemporary Programme, following the appointment of Rosalind Nashashibi in 2019 and Ali Cherri in 2021. The award is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society, generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull, while the UK Partner Museum for this residency is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter (RAMM).

Condorelli has been invited to respond to works in the collections of the National Gallery and RAMM. She began her residency in September 2022 and has worked over the course of a year in the National Gallery’s on-site artist’s studio, benefiting from the close proximity to the collection and archives. This will culminate in a publication and a display featuring Condorelli’s work at the National Gallery. With the support of the Contemporary Art Society, one of the works relating to the residency will enter RAMM’s collection.

The jury that selected Condorelli for the residency was impressed by her ability to engage a range of audiences through her imaginative architectural interventions in gallery spaces, while drawing attention to materials and the notions of leisure and labour in society.

Céline Condorelli says: ‘I feel hugely honoured to have been invited to be artist in residence at the National Gallery. Being given the opportunity to spend time in the company of such a rich collection is incredible, and I look forward to getting to know the museum inside and out. This feels like an important moment to address cultural institutions and their social responsibilities with fresh eyes, as well as the role of artists within them.’

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, says: ‘I am looking forward to Céline Condorelli’s residency at the National Gallery and the work that this will inspire for us and for our partner museum in Exeter (RAMM). Her thoughtful and striking objects and installations will provide new insights into our collections and the life and activity of our museums.’

Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, says: ‘We are delighted to be working with the National Gallery and RAMM on the third iteration of the residency programme. It will be exciting to see how Céline Condorelli engages with both institutions, she will undoubtedly bring entirely new insights to much-loved collections.’

Camilla Hampshire, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Museums Manager, says: ‘Working with the National Gallery on the artist-in-residence programme this year is a fantastic opportunity for cross-collaboration and sharing our collections and teams. Céline Condorelli’s artistic practice is sure to create exemplary new work that engages in thoughtful and unexpected ways with RAMM’s world-class collections. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our visitors to experience contemporary art by this internationally acclaimed artist. We look forward to seeing the work develop and hosting a permanent legacy of the residency through acquiring the work for RAMM.’


The National Gallery’s 2023 Artist in Residence: Céline Condorelli
13 September 2023 – 7 January 2024

Admission free

Press view: 13 September 2023

About Céline Condorelli

Céline’s work addresses the boundaries between public and private, art and function, work and leisure, in order to reimagine what culture and society can be, and the role of artists within them. Using sculptures, architecture and installations, both within museums and galleries but also in the public realm, Céline’s practice highlights the action of exhibiting itself, in its material and temporal nature. Celine has produced or participated in numerous exhibitions both internationally and in the UK. Most recently last year, a commission with the South London Gallery for a playground in a nearby residential estate, which then formed the basis of an exhibition featuring a film made in collaboration with Ben Rivers and Jay Bernard that was shown at the gallery, titled ‘After Work’. Celine also presented her work in a major survey, under the same name at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh and her project ‘Our Silver City 2094’ was also shown at Nottingham Contemporary. Among many accolades, Celine was shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2017, and as a teacher also for many years, is currently Professor of Exhibition Design and Research at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Germany.

About the Artist in Residence jury

The panel consisted of Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society, Lara Goodband, Contemporary Art Curator & Programmer, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator, The MAC, Belfast, Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey, CEO, Cove Park, Peaton Hill, Argyll and Bute, Sunil Gupta, Artist, and Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator Modern and Contemporary Projects, the National Gallery, London.

The Artist in Residence position is designed for an artist in the middle of their career who will benefit from unparalleled access to the Gallery’s collection. The partnership between the National Gallery and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery allows the artist to respond to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the Western European tradition, as well as an outstanding collection of visual arts with an engaging contemporary art programme. In a move to enrich regional collections, the Residency enables a work by Condorelli’s to travel to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, where it will be acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum’s permanent collection.

About the Contemporary Art Society

The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations.

About the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

RAMM is Exeter’s world-class museum, with stunning displays that reveal Devon and Exeter’s rich history and global connections. These displays of extraordinary objects inspire artists to create new work and provide a rich context for an engaging contemporary art programme that includes temporary collection interventions and exhibitions. Featuring new and commissioned work by internationally-renowned artists ranging from Joy Gregory and Bedwyr Williams to Susan Derges and Lucy Skaer, as well as existing works by artists such as Mikhail Karikis and Dorothy Cross in RAMM-curated shows, contemporary art at RAMM reflects the varied and fascinating subjects explored in the museum. RAMM also supports and shows artists living and working in Exeter and the wider region, most recently Léonie Hampton, Amy Shelton and Michelle Sank. The contemporary art programme of commissions and exhibitions is funded by Arts Council England. For more information about the contemporary art programme see: 

RAMM has a track record of making its collections accessible to a wide audience. In 2012 RAMM won the much coveted Art Fund ‘Museum of the Year’ award in recognition of the innovative and thoughtful way the collection was redisplayed. When presenting the award Lord Chris Smith described the galleries as, ‘some of the most intelligently considered displays on view in any museum in the UK’ demonstrating RAMM’s extensive interpretative skill that engages audiences of about 250,000 each year. A flagship Exeter City Council service, RAMM attracts funding from other sources and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. 

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About SP Lohia Foundation and Aarti Lohia

Founded in 2016 by S.P. Lohia, SPLF is an international charitable trust based in the U.K. and operating in all spheres of public interest and well-being. Under the direction of Aarti Lohia, SPLF supports some of the most inspiring philanthropic organisations and institutions in the UK and internationally and aims to provide solutions, opportunities, and hope for a fairer world for everyone.

Aarti is a Founding Patron and Trustee of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the leading philanthropic partner for developing the India Foundation for the Arts Archive (IFA archive) based in Bangalore, India. She also sits on the Victoria & Albert Museum’s International Council; The South Asian Acquisitions Committee at Tate Modern, the Serpentine Gallery’s International Council; the British Fashion Council Foundation; and the David Rockefeller Council at MoMA.

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