IT'S probably the smallest, most exclusive, exhibition the Minories has ever shown.

That's the selected number of works chosen from the Priseman Seabrook Collection of 21st Century British Painting, which are currently on show in the High Street gallery's Garden Room.

Among those on display are pieces by such luminaries as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Tracy Emin and Colin Self, which hang next to works by lesser known painters including Matthew Krishanu, Julian Brown and Colchester Art Society president Simon Carter.

The collection was set up by Wivenhoe's Robert Priseman, an internationally acclaimed artist in his own right, who wanted to do something to promote the art of painting in a world dominated by modern art.

It follows Robert's last show at the Minories, Notes from China, a cross cultural project which saw contemporary Chinese drawings shown here, and contemporary British paintings exhibited over there.

Robert says: "We've had some great results from Notes From China particularly in the artists exchange programme, promoting Chinese artists here but also British artists in China."

The Priseman Seabroook Collection is made-up of more than a hundred works, most of which have been donated to Robert in his quest to fly the flag for contemporary British painting.

"I'm working with more than 150 artists," he tells me, "and the idea was to build up a collection of work that could then be offered up to galleries and museums all around the country. It's basically a co-operative of artists to promote painting.

"What's been great is having the well known works sit alongside lesser known artists because it has given them exposure in lots of new places where they might not necessarily have got it before.

"Britain is a major hub for painting and in Hackney we have the largest collection of painters in the whole of Europe. I think that's something that should be shouted about."

Alongside the collection in the main gallery spaces are works from members of Paintclubeast, a collective of artists that work together to explore and challenge their thinking around painting through critical investigation.

The Priseman Seabrook Collection is on show at the Minories Art Gallery until July 9. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday with free admission.