Major new exhibition announced as gallery marks milestone in revamp

Ferens Art Gallery
Ferens Art Gallery

His name may not be familiar - but his work is. Now two pieces by acclaimed international sculptor Ron Mueck are to be shown in Hull as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

Wild Man, 2005 and Spooning Couple, 2005 will visit the Ferens Art Gallery next summer alongside other major loans and works, including Spencer Tunick’s Sea of Hull, which recently attracted 3,200 people to take part in the largest nude installation ever made in the UK.

Curator of Art Kirsten Simister, said: “The gallery’s permanent collection has some fantastic examples of 20th century naked portraiture, ranging from Stanley Spencer’s painting of his second wife Nude, Portrait of Patricia Preece, 1935 to John Coplan’s photographic Self Portrait Upside Down’, 1992.

“In 2017, the work of Mueck and other artists, brought to Hull for the first time, will create a special focus on this aspect of the Ferens’ collection and spectacularly update it.”

The sculptures are part of the collection of international modern and contemporary art, known as Artist Rooms, owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate.

Martin Green, CEO of Hull 2017, said: “Putting Mueck on show will be just one of the highlights in an outstanding series of exhibitions and displays at the gallery after it reopens in 2017, when Hull is UK City of Culture.”

The gallery is still under wraps and will be for the next few months.

But shrouded behind hoarding, a year on after it closed for a £4.5m upgrade, workers are beavering away to be ready for the grand reveal in early January.

The Turner Prize exhibition is coming to Hull next year, along with other yet-to-be-announced exhibitions and the upgrade was needed to allow the Ferens to qualify for the Government Indemnity Scheme which allows bodies to show works, without paying massive insurance costs. The work will mean the gallery can meet strict environmental conditions - oil paintings, for example, do not like temperature and humidity fluctuations.

Perspex rooflights have been replaced with toughened glass and the cafe at the back, which will incorporate the shop, extended with a new roof.

In the past difficulties meeting temperature and humidity controls have meant a major headache for the gallery’s team and ruled it out on occasions for high-profile loans.

When putting on the record-breaking Hockney show in 2012 they had to take great lengths, including hanging drapes, putting in a mobile dehumidifier and keeping steel shutter doors locked. Ms Simister says it will make all the difference to the kind of exhibition which can be hosted in future. She said people could expect some “amazing” shows next year - and all for free - adding: “They are unlike anything I have worked on in the past during my career.”