A GREAT Evening for British Art

The following is a guest post by Maeve Atkins, Communications Officer at the British Embassy in Washington.


As the newest member of the Communications team at the Embassy, I was especially excited to work my first event – in my first week – at one of Washington’s premiere modern art museums, The Phillips Collection.

Every first Thursday of the month the gallery holds a “Phillips After 5” evening event. July’s event, deemed “British Invasion,” took place on July 5 and focused on, you guessed it, all things British. The event centered on British sculptor Antony Gormley’s new exhibit, “Drawing Space.” The exhibit, open from June 2 through September 9, is the first U.S. museum exhibition to present Gormley’s drawings, and includes more than 80 prints and several sculptures.

Music is GREAT Britain

DJ Danny Harris plays his ‘British Invasion’ set for visitors. Photo: Sue Ahn

The Embassy collaborated with the Phillips to help celebrate the event in style. Included in the evening was something for everyone: a DJ playing British music, models sporting high-end pieces from famed British fashion houses, including Stella McCartney and Burberry (including an iconic Burberry trench), and a showing of episodes from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

The large museum was bustling with guests and members, eager to mingle at the bar and get a look around the entire museum, which was completely open to attendees. The Embassy set up with GREAT banners and literature, and had a constant flow of enthusiastic Anglophiles stopping by to chat. Everyone seemed excited for the Olympics and many reflected on their connection, however distant it was, to Britain. Many people stopped by the table to ask me how I was handling the extreme weather in the US – then quickly realized I’m an American. Having spent a great deal of time in the UK, I assured them I was used to extreme rain, but in spite of this I hoped that the GREAT campaign would encourage them to visit the UK.  2012 is turning out to be a GREAT year for the UK, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics on the way there is no better time to visit the UK – or to work for the UK in the USA.

The UK has long been a thriving place for art and architecture, and throughout its more than 90 years of existence, The Phillips Collection has featured a variety of exhibitions focusing on British artists.

While Gormley’s exhibit only lasts until September, the British legacy of GREAT art is sure to carry on.

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