Become a Member
Hew Locke, The Ambassadors © Hew Locke. Photo by Anna Arca

Hew Locke: The Ambassadors

29 April – 25 June 2023

The Lowry is delighted to present Hew Locke’s The Ambassadors. Originally commissioned by The Lowry in 2019, this is the first opportunity to present this major new work by the acclaimed Guyanese-British artist in Salford. Locke’s sculptural installation consists of four Black figures on horseback, acting as envoys, bringing messages from the past to the future. Their animals are weighed down with baggage, and they them themselves are festooned with glittering symbols that echo our real past and real cultures. There is a cascade of stuff; Benin bronzes, portraits of Toussaint Louverture, colonial medals, six-guns, slave pennies, symbols of justice. With these figures, Locke offers a counterpoint to traditional statues and monuments, subverting their symbols of colonial power, and questioning who our society chooses to memorialise and celebrate.

Michael Simpson, Director of Visual Art at The Lowry says: “The Ambassadors is by far The Lowry’s most important commission to date, given Hew Locke’s international reputation; the quality of the work and the wider political and social debates that surround public statuary. The Lowry was proud to commission The Ambassadors in 2019, and it was hugely disappointing that the Pandemic prevented us from showing them sooner. We are now thrilled be able present them as originally planned in Salford and for our audiences to enjoy.”

Since being commissioned the works feature in the landmark group exhibition In the Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery, London (29 June –⁠ 18 Sept 2022) and Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands (19 Nov – 10 Apr 2023), Locke’s The Ambassadors will now have a solo presentation at The Lowry, Salford.

The works will be shown alongside a bespoke wallpaper featuring imagery from Locke’s ongoing Share series; these now-obsolete historical documents are source material symbolising the history and movement of power, money and ownership. Locke reworks these certificates by embellishing them with acrylic paint, to obscure or highlight information. The exhibition will also feature three new Share works that hold direct connections to north-west England including certificates from the Manchester Ship Canal Company, and the Middleton and Tonge Cotton Mill, adorned with a painting of Mahatma Gandhi who visited the Lancashire mill during the Swadeshi movement in 1931.

Zoe Watson, Contemporary Curator at The Lowry says: “Hew Locke’s intricately layered and visually powerful work allows us to re-examine and contemplate questions such as who should be immortalised in our society, and why? We invite our own audiences to ask those questions for themselves, inspired by Locke’s fantastical visions, which open a gateway to a vast multitude of possibilities.”

Alongside the permanent LS Lowry Collection, The Lowry presents a regularly changing programme of contemporary exhibitions commissioned by or curated in-house by The Lowry. This major commission was made possible thanks to Arts Council England and Salford City Council.

Latest Posts