British Council Visual Arts is a dedicated team of specialists committed to promoting the achievements of the UK's best artists abroad. We connect the UK’s visual arts sector with professionals internationally, focusing predominantly on staging and supporting contemporary art projects in areas of the developing world. Primary activities include exhibitions, training and development, professional study exchange visits and the sharing of our unrivalled knowledge and advice on the logistics of working internationally in the visual arts and museums sector. 

Since 2010, we have overseen major projects in China, India, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Russia, Kuwait, Brazil, Argentina, Oman, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Slovakia and many other countries. 

The principal assets of Visual Arts include the British Council Collection; a professional library with extensive coverage of developments in the British art of the 20th and 21st century; the British Pavilion in Venice; a state-of-the-art Workshop and a team of professional visual arts experts who curate exhibitions for our global network, as well as offering advice and assessment for international institutions and individuals wishing to work in the UK.

The Collection

Featuring over 8,500 works, this global resource is used to create displays and exhibitions for all parts of the world. The works are frequently loaned to UK and international museums and galleries, and are on display in the British Council's many teaching centres and offices around the world.

The Collection is also used to provide training in curatorial studies and art handling for international professionals. We provide them with advice on exhibitions making, from curatorial selection, to marketing, sponsorship, international freight, insurance and publicity.

An external advisory panel advises Visual Arts on new purchases and acquisitions.

The Workshop

The Visual Arts Workshop is home to the British Council Collection, but also serves as a base from which works of art are prepared for exhibitions and international touring. Our team of six dedicated fine art handlers have exceptional knowledge of how artworks travel, whether made in traditional or - more commonly - in new and unconventional materials. The Workshop staff offer advice on all aspects of art handling, international logistics and fine art installation, including AV and digital.

The British Pavilion in Venice

The British Council owns and runs the British Pavilion in Venice, home of the UK’s presentation at the International Art Biennale and International Architecture Biennale, which take place in alternate years. The Visual Arts team has been responsible for curating and organising the British presentation at the Art Biennale since 1937. Around 500,000 people visit for the Art Biennale. 

The Venice Biennale Selection Committee advises the British Council on the UK's representation in the British Pavilion. The Committee is made of arts professionals from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and membership changes for every edition of the Biennale. Previous selected artists include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ben Nicholson, Bridget Riley, Barry Flanagan, Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread, Chris Ofili, Gilbert & George, Tracey Emin, Steve McQueen, Mike Nelson and Jeremy Deller.

Find out more about the history of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale