Art moves from the corridors of power to the walls of Whitechapel

Some of the works have adorned the walls of Britain's corridors of power for more than a century, seen only in passing by a privileged few.

Now leading figures in British politics are offering an unprecedented insight into the art displayed in government buildings, from a contemporary drawing in the culture ministry to an abstract sculpture in Downing Street.

The Government Art Collection, with London's Whitechapel Gallery, is staging the first public art exhibition in its 113-year history. Seven luminaries from the world of politics, including the Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, have chosen work for the show, which opened yesterday.

Mrs Cameron has chosen a bronze sculpture by Elisabeth Frink, oil paintings by LS Lowry and William Marlow, and a steel and wood construction by sculptor Mary Martin, all of which are normally hidden from view inside No 10.

Explaining her selection of the 1776 Marlow painting, A View of St Paul's and Blackfriars Bridge, Mrs Cameron said: "It is displayed in the White Room that is often used to welcome guests to 10 Downing Street. One of my earliest meetings in here was with the Sarkozys. Another draw of this painting is the River Thames which is hugely important to London and has become so for our family, now that we are closer to it and can walk along it more often."

The Lowry has been chosen to hang in Downing Street by most recent prime ministers, except for Tony Blair.

The Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, chose drawings by the former Young British Artists Tracey Emin and Michael Landy. "I first met Tracey Emin at a dinner about two years ago," said Mr Vaizey. "I was terrified beforehand but she couldn't have been nicer. She has since become a great guide to art for me.

"I chose these pieces not just because I wanted to have some of Tracey's work, but also because I spent every summer with my auntie and uncle in Margate as a child, so there is a strong personal connection."

Other works of note include a 16th-century painting of Queen Elizabeth I by an unnamed artist, which has not been seen in public for 50 years. It was chosen for the exhibition by Lord Mandelson. The other selectors were the MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, the British diplomat Dame Anne Pringle and the Labour peer Lord Boateng.

Two-thirds of the Government Art Collection, which contains 13,500 pieces, is on display at any one time in government departments at home and embassies abroad. The rest is kept in storage. In March, a cross-parliamentary group of MPs recommended that the collection be merged with other government art collections owned by the British Council and Arts Council.

The Critic's View by David Lee

LS Lowry, "Good Friday Daisy Nook"

Though an untypical Lowry in many ways, this is a quicker, livelier version of one of the Salford artist's best pictures. Though a grandee, Mrs Cameron was born near Scunthorpe, so the northern subject is probably the reason she chose it.

Zarina Bhimji, 'Howling Like Dogs, I swallowed solid air 1998-2003'

This depressing image could only be selected by a victim with something grim on his mind. Mr Clegg should probably be on suicide watch. It is a photograph which can mean whatever you want it to mean. That is, it can mean tomorrow the opposite of what you said it meant today. Conceptual art is convenient like that.

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
    Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

    Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

    Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

    Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

    Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

    In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)