This limited edition artwork Tate
, 2015 by Hew Locke accompanied the exhibition Artist & Empire
at Tate Britain. An edition of 20, this work is one of Locke's trademark assemblages, glittering, decorative, and yet reflective of his own complex relationship with the history of Henry Tate.
For over a decade Hew Locke has been interrogating the idea of the Hero, as manifested in the thousands of public statues scattered around our towns, creating work he has described as “mindful vandalism”.
Locke passes the bust of Henry Tate everyday outside Brixton Library, one of several Tate libraries built by Henry Tate in south London. Tate also built Tate Britain, endowed it with his personal collection, and presented it to the nation. These are libraries and galleries that Locke makes use of today.
Tate was a Liverpudlian grocer and Unitarian who became a partner in a local sugar refinery in 1859. In 1872 he purchased the patent for producing sugar cubes. With this and other new technologies his business expanded, and he rapidly became a millionaire, donating generously to educational and health charities in Britain.
Tate’s business was founded after the abolition of the British slave trade, but the sugar trade itself was originally created and flourished under slavery, and later sustained by indentured labour. Sugar plantations to this day are physically harsh and labour-intensive businesses. Each work is accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate.
Artist and Empire
40.6 x 39.2 cm
Cut and engraved brass, polished and aged with mounted giclee print
Date of work
Locke was born in Edinburgh in 1959; lived from 1966 to 1980 in Georgetown, Guyana; and is currently based in London. He obtained a B.A. Fine Art at The Falmouth School of Art (1988) and an M.A. Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London (1994). In 2000 he won both a Paul Hamlyn Award
and The East International Award
Locke explores the subject of power, particularly through the representation of royal portraiture, coats-of- arms, public statuary, trophies, company share certificates, weaponry and costume. In his early works, Locke began to see the Queen’s official portrait as a vehicle through which he confronted and evaluated his experiences of growing up. With this subject, his work began to engage with the embodiment of power, building amalgamations between different cultures and colonial histories. Successfully merging influences from both Guyanese and British cultures, Locke delves deeply into the history behind the subject matters and objects involved in his works. Unifying this knowledge with his creative vision, he creates pieces that stand on a crossroad of cultures, mediums and historic references.
Locke’s works are included in many international exhibitions and collections.
1.2 cm (depth)