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Musical artwork heralds final GAC display

Piece inspired by Roger Bannister is part of the exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

An interactive, musical work of art celebrating a moment of sporting endeavour is at the heart of the fifth and final Government Art Collection (GAC) display.

4’33” (Prepared Pianola for Roger Bannister) by Mel Brimfield was commissioned for the display, and also forms part of the London 2012 Festival.

A 1920s Steck pianola, a ‘ball run’ incorporating percussion instrument and musical horns combine to play a composition inspired by the athletes’ performance in the race and the experimental music of John Cage.

The work celebrates the 1952 Helsinki Olympic race where British athlete Roger Bannister came fourth - just missing out on a medal - but spurring him on in his goal of breaking the four-minute mile two years later.

“I think there’s something quite British about noble striving rather than success,” said Ms Brimfield. “I wanted to make some sort of monument to that and this is the story of this race.”

The work is one of several in the fifth display at the Whitechapel Gallery, which focuses on the GAC’s role in commissioning new works of art.

Earlier GAC exhibitions included a selection from the Collection made by artist Cornelia Parker and art that has been the backdrop to decades of political life at Downing Street.

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Published 11 July 2012