Worcester City Art Gallery has collected contemporary art for 150 years, building up an outstanding collection, particularly strong in landscapes. The Worcester City Museum collection, of which fine art is an important part alongside natural history, archaeology and social history, focuses on the shaping of the English landscape. Worcestershire’s landscape tells the story of England, from the geology of the Malvern Hills to the townplanning ‘rape of Worcester’ which drove modern conservation movements.
Continuing to thoughtfully collect contemporary art is important for Worcester – creative practice is constantly developing and Worcester aspires to sustain the significance and relevance of its collection to the development of Worcestershire and its county town. However the pressures on local authority budgets mean that purchases for the collection are usually undertaken in partnership. Thanks to a grant from the New Art West Midlands project, Museums Worcestershire were able to purchase the print Cross in Hands, 2006, by Clare Woods for the Worcester City Museum collection.
Clare Woods is based in rural Herefordshire having chosen the rural landscape of the West Midlands as an inspiration for her work and her family. The past few years have seen some significant exhibitions and projects for Woods including a huge piece, 125 meters long, for the Olympic Park in London in 2012. The same year, Woods completed a large panel commission for the newly built Hive library in Worcester.
Cross in Hands depicts a dense a tangle of woodland foliage and flowers, which has grown into the form of a cross. With bright, magnesium white highlights, and pitch black grounds, it has the starkness of a flash lit photograph.