Here London / Here 2017

From there to Here: Ryan Gander, Artist

In the lead up to It’s Nice That’s annual symposium, Here 2017, we have asked each of the speakers to shed light on their career to date by sharing a piece of work created at the outset of their career and a more recent piece, then reflect on the progression between the two. Today, artist Ryan Gander tells us how he got from There to Here.

Ryan Gander is a contemporary artist famed for his complex and conceptual works that playfully question the everyday and the uncanny. The British artist was awarded an OBE in 2017 for services to contemporary art and has exhibited in solo shows across the globe. He has received numerous prestigious prizes for his work including the Zurich Art Prize and ABN Amro Art Prize.

Gander’s work reveals his inquisitive mind, making and forcing connections in his art that ask the viewer to draw conclusions using their imagination. Works produced by Gander have been inspired by Degas, Charles M Schulz, government departments and the play dens he constructs at home with his daughter, each investigating a different way of understanding events we encounter each day, testing and subverting realities we take for granted.


Ryan Gander: Banner for Europe © Ryan Gander

Banner for Europe, 1999

What is the work? Why was it created? 

A large banner displaying the word “Optimism” in the colours of the European Union. The sign is produced with the intention of being displayed in economically deprived areas. I made the banner sitting on my bedroom floor in my flat in Manchester, hand sewing it.

What did you learn while doing it? What do you think of it now?

The image shows the banner hung at a building site at the Commonwealth Games stadium. I bribed a builder to get him to hang it up. Unsurprisingly in light of recent events, this banner seems particularly poignant, even 20 years later. The idea relates not only to Europe as a union, but is lot to do with the fact that at this point in time, I was living in Manchester and felt marginalised as an artist who was not based in London, and that unless you were, no-one was listening to you. The idea of hanging a banner of optimism was a guerrilla strategy, it is empowering and is about instigating changes, not about the object itself.


Ryan Gander: A very post human modernist crusade, or The best of you © Ryan Gander. Courtesy the artist and Musees de la Ville de Strasbourg. Image Mathieu Bertola.


A very post human modernist crusade, or The best of you. 2016

What is the work? Why was it created?

A silver and enamel lapel pin designed by the artist is left on top of a legal contract alongside a pen. The silver pin coloured with enamel contains six revolving motifs of a blue cube hovering above the palm of an open hand inside a hexagon. The legal contract outlines an agreement and conditions for the invitation to gift the sum of €15,000 in return for the safekeeping of the enamel pin for the period of 12 months. The funds raised will be made available as a scholarship for young artists. This is interesting in terms of being a "failed project" of sorts – the scholarship has not been purchased, and the work aims to expose the privatised nature of public art

Alongside Ryan, this year’s speakers include fashion designer Christopher Raeburn, graphic designer and illustrator George Hardie, photographer Juno Calypso, graphic design agency Triboro, graphic artist James Jarvis, graphic designer Astrid Stavro, art director and photographer Carlota Guerrero and artist (and one of It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch 2017) Marguerite Humeau.