Yorkshire gallery asks people to nominate favourite artworks for new exhibition

It made a huge stir with its 2016 commission, when thousands stripped off and daubed themselves in blue paint in the name of art.

Artist Spencer Tunick pictured with one of his photographs, Sea of Hull, at the Ferens Art Gallery in 2017

The following year, when Hull celebrated being UK City of Culture, a record-breaking 519,000 people streamed through the doors of Ferens Art Gallery – a stark contrast to recent months.

The gallery, which only reopened last Friday following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, is now setting out to reunite people with the paintings they love.

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It is asking art lovers to nominate their favourite works for a celebratory exhibition later this year.

Archive pic: A member of staff admires Herbert Draper's Ulysses and the Sirens at the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull (2001)

Ferens Favourites will tell the story of the municipal art collection, with people asked to explain the reasons behind their choice.

Firm favourites include the storm-tossed painting, Ulysses and the Sirens, by the Leeds-born artist Herbert Draper, and Victorian artist Rosa Bonheur’s ultra-realistic big cat study, The Lion at Home.

Coun Marjorie Brabazon, who chairs Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “Visitors to the gallery have grown up with these artworks.

“They are treasured and, in many cases, have inspired people to engage and fall in love with art.

“Lockdown hid these wonderful artworks from us, but only temporarily. This exhibition will be a fitting celebration of our Ferens favourites and will enable visitors to reunite with the artworks they love.”

Internationally renowned artist Ian McKeever who visited the gallery many times as a boy picked Stanley Spencer’s Greenhouse and Garden (1937).

McKeever, who grew up in Withernsea, said: “Just occasionally one sees a painting which for whatever reason sticks in the mind, becomes a part of one’s living consciousness, so to speak.

“Such a work for me is Stanley Spencer’s modest painting of a bunch of onions hanging on a greenhouse wall, Greenhouse and Garden, which I first saw as a boy at the Ferens in the 1950s.

“Of all the things one could paint, the grand themes of life, why paint a bunch of humble onions? This question mystified me.”

Opened in 1927, the Ferens Art Gallery was gifted to the city by TR Ferens, a local industrialist who also established a purchasing fund that has allowed its collections to grow in quality and range.

One of the outstanding regional art collections in the UK, it has almost 800 paintings, covering a wide array of subjects, styles and techniques.

The Ferens underwent a £4.5m makeover to enable it to host the Turner Prize in 2017.

Visit www.ferensfavourites.co.uk for an entry form and instructions on how to take part in the upcoming exhibition.

The permanent collection can be viewed at www.artuk.org/visit/venues/ferens-art-gallery-3518.