A key aspect of this collections is Dear Tony Hart, a commissioned collection that honours the BBC Television Artist Tony Hart (1925-2009) who inspired many generations throughout his 50-year broadcasting history. His programmes, Vision On, Take Hart and Hart Beat encouraged children to send in their artwork for selection and display on the television, the artwork was never returned but successful young artists would receive a book token. I was fascinated to discover that Michael Landy not only succeeded in showcasing his childhood artwork in Vision On, but kept the rewarding book token into adulthood until it was later destroyed in his landmark artwork, Break Down in 2001. Dear Tony Hart collection features all new work from 19 contemporary artists and is permanently installed on one large wall in the main club space.
Highlights include 3 works pre-dating the artist’s professional careers: a drawing from the youth of Sue Webster (a portrait of her parents she created aged 8 in 1975); teenage Mat Collishaw’s abstracted painting of his groin L’Homme Bleu 1984; Michael Landy’s decorative motif titled Michael Landy aged 54 Take Hart Scraperboard, 1979-2018. Thomas Heatherwick, another huge Tony Hart fan, presents a small maquette for his sculptural cooling vents (2002) outside St Paul’s cathedral, London. Ryan Gander based his piece on the original obituary he was commissioned to write about Tony Hart for Frieze magazine in 2009, Validation through association, or, To give voice’.
‘On Television’ is another sub-collection, largely displayed across the public ground floor. The artworks playfully, obliquely and sometimes boldly reference iconic television programmes such as Roundabout (Ivan Seal), Blue Peter (George Henry Longly), Rainbow (David Shrigley), Top of the Pops (David Koppel, Janet Milner, Kate Gibb, Matthew Rich) and concerts (Adam Dix) as well as soap operas (Julian Rosefeldt) and the famous colourful test card image, as appropriated in a contemporary glass work by young British artist Archie Proudfoot. A key commission for the site was a series of 4 editions from the pop artist Peter Blake. His signature collage work shows a line-up of broadcast stars throughout the past 5 decades assembled outside Television Centre. These works are displayed across the bedrooms of the club.