Michael Armitage Receives Robson Orr TenTen Award

Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Michael Armitage Receives Robson Orr TenTen Award

In 2023, the Government Art Collection commissioned artist Michael Armitage to create a limited-edition print that will be shown in UK government buildings around the world.

In Ngaben, a new lithograph commissioned for the Government Art Collection, Michael Armitage pays homage to a close artist-friend in Bali, Indonesia, who recently died. Ngaben is a Hindu cremation ceremony practised in Bali; the ceremony is central to this intimate cycle-of-life vignette is the burning pyre. Two women hold each other as they watch the flames, while to their right a mother breastfeeds her baby. Mischievous mask-like faces crowd the bottom of the image. A line of simplified figures from early south-east African paintings form a mysterious script above.

Armitage is best known for his oil paintings on Lubugo bark cloth, used by the Baganda people in Uganda to make burial shrouds. He merges European painting styles with east African subjects and materials, or experiences of his recent move to Bali. Through his work, he weaves narratives that he draws from historical and current news media, popular culture and his own memories and imaginings. Often, as here, the real meets the ethereal.

Armitage was inspired by a vital outcome of the Robson Orr TenTen Award. Every year, sales of 11 of the limited-edition prints fund the acquisition of work by emerging British artists and those currently under-represented in the Collection.

Image : Michael Armitage, Ngaben, 2023 © Michael Armitage – Commissioned by the Government Art Collection for The Robson Orr TenTen Award 2023, a GAC/Outset Annual Commission

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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