Press Release

New BP Spotlight Displays at Tate Britain

Today Tate Britain announced its new season of BP Spotlights opening this summer. They include displays of major figures such as Walter Sickert and Barry Flanagan, as well as work by the Systems group and the archive of Nimai Chatterji. The BP Spotlights are a series of regularly changing free displays at Tate Britain, using works from Tate’s collection and loans to explore particular themes or focus on particular artists.

Sickert and Photography

4 July 2016 – 17 April 2017

Walter Sickert was fascinated by the way that photographs could freeze dramatic moments in light and shade. This display shows how he used photography as a source for his paintings, and how he explored and exaggerated their qualities to produce heightened interpretations. Sickert also fed into the public’s interest in current affairs and celebrity, with some of his paintings becoming press stories in their own right. He even created his own public image in the press through self-portraits based on photographs. This display includes Sickert’s dramatic self-portrait The Servant of Abraham, and his paintings of the aviator Amelia Earhart and the actress Peggy Ashcroft.

Barry Flanagan, sand girl

4 July 2016 – Autumn 2016

On display for the first time at Tate Britain, this film by Barry Flanagan (1941-2009) is a new acquisition to Tate’s collection. Made in 1971, sand girl explores how sculpture can be expressed in film. It shows sand trickling onto and around a naked body, creating contours and mounds over it, and reveals the imprint left by the body once it has risen. Displayed with the film are the ‘funds’ Flanagan used as currency to pay his collaborators, lino printed notes of his own creation.


18 July 2016 – 17 April 2017

Formed in 1969, Systems was a group of artists who followed rational, systematic procedures to make works of art. Their interest in theory was hugely influential on the way contemporary artists work today. This display presents work by the group’s core members from their most significant moment – an Arts Council touring exhibition in 1972–73 that originated at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. It includes paintings and sculptures as well as drawings, photographs and plans that illustrate Systems’ methodical working process.

Nimai Chatterji

1 August 2016 – 2 April 2017

This display celebrates Tate’s acquisition of Nimai Chatterji’s archive, documenting international avant-garde activity as collected by someone steeped in the cross-currents of Anglo-Indian culture. Chatterji came to London in the mid-1950s and became a producer for the Bengali department of the BBC World Service. From the mid-1950s, he corresponded with a wide range of artists, writers, musicians and poets seeking out material and information and sometimes being an active participant in their activities. This display gives a sense of the archive’s geographical range, diversity and depth.

Ongoing displays

Shoot Shoot Shoot: The London Film-Makers’ Co-operative 1966-1976

UNTIL 17 July 2016

The London Film-Maker’s Co-operative (LFMC) was set up in the 1960s to give greater exposure to experimental film and provide a platform for British work. LFMC challenged the hierarchies of film production, allowing independent filmmakers to have complete control over the creative process. This display explores LFMC’s impact and legacy, and features posters, letters, books and magazines as well as seven short films made during their first ten years. A new book, entitled Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative & British Avant-Garde Film 1966-76, will be published by LUX in October 2016.

Pre-Raphaelite Works on Paper

Until Spring 2017

Pre-Raphaelite paintings began on paper. On sketchbooks, scraps and even the backs of envelopes, artists tried out the ideas that would challenge the establishment. This display showcases the compositions and studies which arose from the close encounter between artist and subject.

Anwar Shemza

Until NOVEMBER 2016

Born in Simla, India in 1928, Anwar Jalal Shemza left an established career as a writer and painter in Pakistan to move to London in 1956. In Britain he abandoned figurative art and developed vigorous compositions that fused calligraphy, Islamic architecture with Western abstraction. Throughout his career Shemza worked in a wide range of media, repeatedly revisiting a number of different subjects, including the walls and gates of Lahore, the Arabic letter ‘Meem’, and plant roots. His last series of work directly related to notions of belonging in the Pakistani diaspora.

Hockney Double Portraits

Until October 2016

This display brings together three of David Hockney’s celebrated double portraits, including George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-5, which was presented to Tate by the artist last year. Hockney made a series of large-scale double portraits between 1968 and 1977, portraying couples or friends in their homes. They convey the artist’s preoccupation with the relationship between people in a style which is both naturalistic and highly formalised.

Jo Spence

Until October 2016

Jo Spence (1934-92) was one of the key photographers in Britain in the 1980s, developing a political practice that engaged with issues of identity and photography’s place in society. This display showcases Spence’s collaborative work with The Hackney Flashers – a socialist-feminist collective from 1974 into the 1980s – and with her long-term collaborator Terry Dennett. It will also explore her experience with cancer and her adoption of photo-therapy.

Art and Alcohol

Until NOVEMBER 2016

Ever since William Hogarth satirised the Georgian craze for gin, artists have explored Britain’s relationship with alcohol, whether as social lubricant or as a factor in social breakdown. This display will centre on a contrast between George Cruikshank’s vast painting Worship of Bacchus 1860-2, which illustrates the dire effects of drink across society, and Gilbert & George’s Drinking Sculpture 1972, a set of progressively blurred photographs of drinkers in London pubs.

For further information please contact or call +44(0)20 7887 8730


BP’s support for UK Arts & Culture

In the UK, BP is a major supporter of the arts with a programme that spans over 50 years. BP’s investment in long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Tate Britain represent one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture.