First Contemporary Sculpture Acquisition for Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2011 with its first ever acquisition of a piece of contemporary sculpture, purchased and presented to the gallery by the Art Fund in honour of Dulwich’s bicentenary.

The work, called Walking the Dog I, II, III, is by leading British sculptor Peter Randall-Page. Inspired by the Gallery’s famous building and its three founders, it is the first sculpture to be included in the permanent collection.

Before creating the work Randall-Page spent time at the Gallery, drawing and taking photographs, getting to know the building and the surrounding landscape. He was impressed by the simple proportions of the Gallery, designed by Sir John Soane in 1811, and was particularly struck by the ‘running dog’ pattern that Soane had used as a decorative feature on the outside of the Gallery. This pattern related very closely to the naturally occurring patterns that have always informed his work. Other sculptural motifs on the Gallery – urns, and sarcophagi – occur in threes, relating to the Gallery’s three founders: Mr and Mrs Noel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois. In creating Walking the Dog I, II, III, Peter Randall-Page chose to echo these by selecting three boulders, carving the running dog motif on their curved surfaces.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “I can think of no better way to celebrate the bicentenary of the Dulwich Picture Gallery – that unique gem in the world of museums – than with the acquisition of a work by one of the most distinctive sculptors working in this country today. Peter Randall-Page’s response to Soane’s elegant building, with its implicit tribute to the Gallery’s Founders, is considered and quietly moving. I am delighted that the Art Fund is presenting Walking the Dog I, II, III as a gift to the gallery where it will soon be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.”

Walking the Dog I, II, III will be installed at the Gallery in September 2010.