A masterpiece by the French artist Claude Monet will be the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Ferens Art Gallery, which will focus on the importance of mindfulness and reflection in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Monet’s Antibes (1888) is the inspiration and centrepiece of Monet in Mind, which will open on Monday 17 May at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.
The painting travels to Hull for the first time as part of a partnership with The Courtauld, London. The Courtauld National Partners programme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and aims to share The Courtauld’s collection with audiences across the UK whilst The Courtauld Gallery is closed for a major transformation project.
Monet was one of the leading artists of the Impressionist art movement in France in the nineteenth century. Monet’s art is known internationally and has inspired generations of artists. Antibes represents his time in the south of France during the spring of 1888 and captures the ‘magical air’ of the Mediterranean light and weather.
The Monet in Mind exhibition will also showcase some of Ferens Art Gallery’s most popular artworks from its permanent collection – including Philip Wilson Steer’s Boulogne Sands (Children Shrimping), and Albert Julius Olsson’s Moonlight, Cornish Coast, alongside sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and contemporary abstract works such as Roger Hilton’s Dark Form on Yellow. Many of these pieces having never been displayed together before.
In January 2020, The Courtauld offered Ferens Art Gallery the opportunity to choose from one of seven celebrated Impressionist paintings to have on loan for audiences in Hull to enjoy. Young people across Hull had the chance to learn more about the French Impressionist movement and choose the painting they wanted to see on display.
Monet in Mind showcases the talents of the Future Ferens, a group of young curators, marketers and creatives, aged 16-25 years old, who are all passionate about art. They have worked in collaboration with the gallery’s team of experts on all aspects of curation, design and promotion of the exhibition.
Mollie Gapper from Future Ferens said: “It has been amazing for us to be involved in curating an exhibition around a painting from an artist as well-known and highly regarded as Monet.
“Our decision to focus on mindfulness was partly in response to the events of the last year which has been challenging for everyone in different ways.
“We hope that the exhibition will allow visitors to take some time to think about what mindfulness means to them, and to pause and reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and mental health.
“We want to encourage people to feel more comfortable talking about what is often considered a difficult and sometimes taboo subject.”
Young people from The Warren have produced new reflective creative writings and students from Hull College have produced soundscapes in response to the exhibition, which visitors to the gallery will be able to read and hear.
August McGregor from Future Ferens said: “It’s been an incredible opportunity for us to help bring Monet to Hull in collaboration with The Courtauld, and especially to do so in a way that acknowledges such a critical aspect of recent life.
“Mental health is something that has affected so many people in different ways over the last year, and it’ll continue to have an impact on everyone indefinitely. In addressing mental wellbeing and positive reflection at the Ferens, we hope to not only provide an interesting experience, but a useful one.
“Mindfulness as a practice isn’t a topic that’s often explored in earnest by a lot of people, and bringing it into a public space has been a new, exciting and rewarding challenge for Future Ferens.
“We hope that visitors, and especially young people, can really engage with the reflective aspects of the exhibition and take something away from it just as we have, and that anyone who attends can take a moment to relax and be mindful of themselves.”
Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “The practice of mindfulness and the importance of mental health really came to the fore during the lockdowns, so I’m delighted to see that this exhibition and its accompanying events programme has been designed to encourage reflection on these issues, especially amongst young people.”
Stephanie Edwards, exhibitions assistant at Ferens Art Gallery, said: “As many people discovered in 2020, art can play a valuable role in sustaining mental health; it can encourage, engage and reduce stress. The accompanying events programme is open to everyone, with several online for those unable to visit the gallery in-person.”
Monet in Mind will run from Monday 17 May until Sunday 4 July. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance online here.
The accompanying events programme will include several online events. More information can be found here.