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Albania: Made In Britain exhibition comes to Tirana

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June 29, 2012

British sculptor Matt Franks blogs about joining the British Council Collection’s current ‘Made in Britain’ tour as it reaches Albania, and how seeing his artwork, ‘FOOOOOOM!!’ as part of the Collection, still fills him with excitement ten years after it was included.

Arriving in Tirana for this part of the never-ending tour of Made in Britain: Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980-2010 was exciting.

Having seen three incarnations of the show in different settings in China, I was intrigued to see how it would look and be received in Albania’s National Gallery of Arts, and to appreciate the dynamics of the relationships created with the other works in the gallery. Each showing of ‘Made in Britain’ is different, as my work ‘FOOOOOOM!!’ gets the opportunity to be in the company of other artists.

Every time I see the exhibition, I am reminded of the pride and excitement I felt at being approached to have my work in the British Council Collection, ten years ago. I remember feeling nervous that the curators had made a mistake and would soon come to their senses: “I’m sorry – we thought this was another artist’s work…”

This incarnation of ‘Made in Britain’, on the beautiful ground floor at Tirana’s National Gallery of Arts, looked fantastic. Interesting relationships are established between each work, with 30 years of artistic discourse and exploration brought together in a single space. Radical experimentation, politics of identity, social commentary and conceptual musings sit next to each other, representing a very influential period of contemporary British art.

I took in the socialist realism paintings upstairs with Genti, the gallery curator, and was aware of the contrast and changes over 30 years for both Britain and Albania, and how this kind of exhibition can extend ideas, bring about collaboration, understanding and even friendship.

The generous invitation from the British Council to follow ‘FOOOOOM!!’ around the world to talk about art is also a unique experience. I enjoyed being able to engage with artists, art students and art viewing public in Tirana. The reception of the show seemed enthusiastic and the show was well-attended – an indication of people’s curiosity and fascination with art and ideas.

Watch a video about the ‘Made in Britain’ exhibition.

Matt Franks is a British sculptor whose artwork, ‘FOOOOOOM!!’ is part of the British Council Collection’s current Made in Britain tour. He is Course Leader, BA (Hons) Sculpture, at Camberwell College of Arts in London.

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