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JK Rowling to Paul Smith – major new art exhibition comes to University of Hull

Release date:
27 March 2017
A stunning new art exhibition opens this week at the University of Hull as part of the City of Culture celebrations

Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling: BP Portrait Award commissions from the National Portrait Gallery brings together some of the best artists in contemporary portraiture, depicting household names such as athlete Dame Kelly Holmes and actors Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren, as well as author J.K. Rowling and designer Paul Smith.


It follows the hugely popular Lines of Thought exhibition earlier this year, which attracted more than 20,000 visitors to the University’s art gallery based in the Brynmor Jones Library.


Part of the University’s Principal Partner contribution to Hull UK City of Culture 2017, the free exhibition opens on Wednesday 29 March and runs until June.


Professor Glenn Burgess, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, said: “We are delighted to be able to host such a stunning selection of portraits at the University during Hull 2017.


“Not only does the exhibition depict a wonderful range of famous faces, from actors to athletes and beyond, but the artists responsible have used an amazing variety of styles and compositions in creating these beautiful works.


“We can’t wait to welcome visitors to the latest major event in our Hull 2017 programme.”


The works in this display have all been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of the first prize of the BP Portrait Award. The Award, now in its 27th year of sponsorship by BP, is aimed at encouraging artists to develop portraiture within their work.


First prize winners of the Award are invited to create a portrait of a public figure making an important contribution to British history and culture. Subjects have been selected for their achievements in the arts and sciences; in politics and philanthropy. Spanning a period of over 20 years, these works are testament to the great talent and range of competing artists and form a key part of the Gallery’s Contemporary Collection.


Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “The commissions of the BP Portrait Award first prize winners are some of the most striking and popular works of the National Portrait Gallery’s twentieth-century and contemporary Collections. We look forward to sharing them with visitors to the University of Hull, who will have the rare opportunity to see all the BP Portrait Award commissioned portraits.”


Ms Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, said: “We are delighted that these portraits painted by the first prize winners of the BP Portrait Award are all coming to the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull. These are portraits of some of the most important figures in British life and it will be very special to see them brought together for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.”


University of Hull students have been given an amazing opportunity to get involved in the City of Culture programme on campus, including being trained up as gallery assistants working on exhibitions like Lines of Thought and Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling.


Lizzie Rogers, student gallery assistant, said: “I can’t wait for this latest exhibition to open. Lines of Thought was such a wonderful experience to be part of and I think visitors are going to fall in love with these art works too.”


The exhibition runs from 29 March to 11 June, seven days a week. Opening hours vary. Booking is encouraged but not essential via www.culturenet.co.uk where there are also more details on dates and times. Entry is free.


School and group visits are welcome – please contact libhelp@hull.ac.uk if you would like to arrange a group visit.


For media enquiries, including high res images and interview opportunities, or for press visits, please contact Sian Alexander at the University of Hull press office on 01482 462193 or 07850 297955 or s.alexander@hull.ac.uk

Notes to editors

University of Hull

Creativity lives and breathes at the University of Hull – always has done, always will.


As a catalyst for creativity we are a keen supporter of arts and culture within our community and beyond – and now, as a principal partner of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 we are delighted to be an integral part of the celebrations.


The University of Hull is playing a significant role in producing and hosting some of the spectacular events that form part of the Hull 2017 programme including, in the first season alone, an exhibition of drawings from some of art’s prominent masters from Matisse to Michelangelo; a film festival dedicated to Oscar-winning Director Minghella who kick-started his career here; and an exhibition of BP Portrait Award Commissions from the National Portrait Gallery will feature famous faces from Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling. Some of this activity will be held in our newly relaunched Middleton Hall which, following a £9.5million redevelopmemt, is now a world-class concert and arts venue.


University of Hull students, graduates and staff will be at the heart of the programming with conferences, concerts and festivals showcasing their talent. In addition, as the exclusive academic partner we are an official partner in creativity and in helping to pave the way for future generations.


For further information visit www.hull.ac.uk / https://culturenet.co.uk


Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull UK City of Culture 2017 is a 365 day programme of cultural events and creativity inspired by the city and told to the world. Hull secured the title of UK City of Culture 2017 in November 2013. It is only the second city to hold the title and the first in England. Divided into four seasons, this nationally significant event draws on the distinctive spirit of the city and the artists, writers, directors, musicians, revolutionaries and thinkers that have made such a significant contribution to the development of art and ideas.


The Culture Company was set up to deliver the Hull 2017 programme and is an independent organisation with charitable status. It has raised £32 million, with over 70 partners supporting the project, including public bodies, trusts and foundations and local and national businesses. The National Lottery has contributed more than £10m of this funding, making the National Lottery the largest single funding body of Hull 2017.


Key contributions are coming from: Host City – Hull City Council; Principal Partners - Arts Council England, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, KCOM, KWL, Spirit of 2012, Yorkshire Water and the University of Hull; Major Partners –Associated British Ports, Arco, BP, the British Council, British Film Institute, Green Port Hull, Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, MKM Building Supplies, P&O Ferries, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sewell Group, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Wykeland Group.


For information go to www.visithull.org/