As the Arts Minister I am in charge of the Government Art Collection (GAC). GAC is a collection of works of art that are displayed in the offices and buildings of British diplomatic buildings around the world, Government ministries, diplomatic offices and in other Government official locations.
The GAC now contains over 14,000 pieces of art dating from the 16th Century to today and they are displayed in nearly every capital city around the world (in UK embassies). As such, every foreign diplomat doing business with the UK will see the artwork and associate that with our country – these pieces of art represent this country all around the world and as such it is important that the art on display in Government buildings represent the whole of the UK.
In light of this, the GAC has been seeking to purchase more art by female artists. Records show that three-quarters of all art acquired between 2011 and 2016 was created by men. As a response, with my support the GAC will for the time being be seeking to buy works from accomplished female artists. There are of course many world-class female artists in this country and I look forward to there being more art by female artists, both historic and modern, in the halls of Government buildings around the world.
One classic work that we have recently acquired was a portrait of a lady wearing an oyster stain dress which is a 17th century portrait by one of Britain’s earliest known professional women court painters, Joan Carlile.