Falmouth Art Gallery/Trevor Bell (2007)

The Fund made its first award, of £7,000, towards the purchase by Falmouth Art Gallery of the painting, ‘Five Bar’ by Trevor Bell. Additional funds for the purchase were provided by the Art Fund (£23,000) and MLA/V&A Purchase Fund (£10,000).

The decision was based on the considerable merits of the work, described by Julian Spalding in the following terms:

“’Five Bar’ is a very large and impressive work – five long bars of scintillating colour that fill a whole wall. The effect of the blues, greens, oranges and reds is so mesmerising it is difficult to turn one’s eyes away. Then, when one realises that these colours capture vertical as well as horizontal movement, the effect becomes all the more dramatic. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. This visual experience acquires even greater resonance when one learns what inspired it – the artist’s witnessing of a night-time launch of Apollo 17 on 7th December 1972 – the night sky turned an extraordinary blue. I know of no other artist who has tried to capture the drama of a space launch – let alone one who has succeeded. It will, I think, emerge as a key work of its times. ‘Five Bar’ is exactly the sort of painting a public art gallery should be acquiring. It will capture the attention and interest of a wide public. It needs to be seen in a public space. It will have a growing historical significance. And it is a major work of art by a dedicated, mature artist who is under-represented in public collections in Britain. Moreover it is a magnificent demonstration of the power of colour. The Falmouth Art Gallery is to be congratulated on making this imaginative acquisition.”