In summer 2020 we launched Ferens Favourites, inviting visitors to select the works for an exhibition of Hull’s best loved paintings. After months of closure during the (first) Coronavirus lockdown, we were hoping to reunite the people of Hull with the paintings they love in person in the gallery.
We asked you to choose a favourite painting in the collection and tell us why it moves you. The entries submitted bring together a wonderful variety of paintings. Subjects include religious and historic events, genre scenes and portraits, landscapes, wonders of nature and marine works. Among the most popular pictures are Rosa Bonheur’s The Lion at Home (1881), Elizabeth Butler’s Return from Inkerman (1877) and Frans Hals’ Portrait of a Young Woman (c.1660).
The exhibition was planned for late 2020. However, the pandemic continued to restrict work in the gallery during the late summer and autumn. Then on 5 November Ferens doors closed again for the second national lockdown. Like everyone, we had to adapt to the changed circumstances. While the gallery presentation of Ferens Favourites has been postponed, we’re delighted to share the paintings chosen by participants to date in this digital exhibition.
The comments accompanying the chosen works reveal the multiple ways art can inspire us. They convey the pleasure in looking closely at an artwork, entering its universe and letting the imagination roam. Some participants highlight personal connections to an artwork, others take us on a journey of escape. All of them draw on lived experience to enter into conversation with the artwork. They show us that time spent engaging with a favourite work of art is time well spent. Art sparks our creativity and invites us to look at the world with fresh eyes.
Thanks to everyone who has taken part. Their responses breathe new life into the Ferens collection. New entries are welcome and will mean the exhibition can continue to grow in 2021. (You’ll find information on how to participate at the very end.)