Art History student’s work with the greats

November 2nd, 2014

As an art history student Amy Concannon studied some of the most famous paintings in the world. Now the Nottingham graduate is putting her knowledge into practice — looking after a £23m masterpiece.

As an Assistant Curator at the Tate Britain, Amy was part of the historic bid to purchase Constable’s iconic painting, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, for the nation. The painting was bought for £23.1m from the family of Lord Ashton of Hyde. It was made possible with grants of £15.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £1m from the Art Fund  and a substantial donation from The Manton Foundation and Tate Members.

Amy said: “This was the work that Constable saw as his best, the culmination of his career, and so its acquisition for the nation will give it a renewed focus.”

A chance to save such a pivotal piece by one of the most significant British landscape painters is rare. The painting, one of a monumental series of six-foot canvases, will be displayed in London and in museums in Wales, Scotland, Salisbury and Ipswich.

Amy said: “It is loaded with meaning, there’s a tension in the painting’s contrast between sunlight and showers, its portrayal of urban and rural, man and nature, alongside Constable’s concerns about the power struggles in religion and politics. Constable wanted his work to be seen by as many people as possible and I am sure he would be delighted that it will remain in Britain and on permanent public display.”

Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate Britain, said: “This is a painting of such supreme importance that had it not been possible for a gallery in this country to acquire it, there would undoubtedly have been institutions abroad that would have wanted to bring it into their collections.”

Looking back to her time at Nottingham, Amy credits the History and Art History Departments with being fantastically supportive in nurturing ideas about what she wanted to do as a career and the Careers Service with pressing home the importance of work experience. The specific modules she took also helped to develop her fascination with 18th and early 19th-century British art, which led to an internship with the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere after she graduated.

Not only will the exhibition run throughout the country but each display will be unique to each venue, and will be complemented by an education programme which encourages audiences to learn more about this painting. The project will establish a national network for Constable Studies to promote, exchange and create opportunities for training and skills development.

Watch Amy share her passion:

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