Jan van Huysum Visits: Dutch Masterpiece comes to Perth

  • Published: July 30th 2021
Culture Perth & Kinross -

Culture Perth and Kinross is delighted to announce a partnership with the National Gallery and Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS) to welcome a Dutch masterpiece to Perth as part of a national tour, Jan van Huysum Visits. Perth is the only Scottish venue and the penultimate stop on the tour.

The tour will see Jan van Huysum’s magnificent painting, Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7), which shows over 30 species of flowers and plants in bloom, travel to six locations across the UK this summer, including Perth, having previously visited Cornwall, Norfolk, the East Midlands, and South Yorkshire.

The painting is being displayed in unusual or unexpected, non-museum venues in each region, including a food bank and community library, a covered market, a former department store, and community centres. The tour promotes ways in which art and culture can support wellbeing and reach audiences who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and lockdown.

Jan van Huysum Visits is one of the National Gallery’s national partnerships, which aims to share paintings across the UK, making them accessible to the broadest possible audiences to explore and be inspired by the collection. Each display will explore one of six ‘Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, and Care (for the Planet). The Perth display will focus on the ‘Care (for the planet)’ way to wellbeing, with the painting being displayed in a walled garden.

The Walled Garden beside the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth has been chosen as the location for the Scottish leg of the paintings tour. The Walled Garden Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub is a tranquil haven for people recovering from mental illness and members of the public alike and has a café, art studio and shop on-site. The location was selected to encourage people to explore their local community and link art with their surroundings, offering a much-needed reprieve from the challenges of living life during a global pandemic.

Engagement with local communities is at the heart of Jan van Huysum Visits. The National Gallery is working closely with PKAVS Mental Health and Wellbeing hub and with Culture Perth and Kinross to ensure that as many people as possible can engage with the painting and make it come alive in new and different ways.

As part of the project, Artist Frances Law has been using The Walled Garden as an inspiration for groups to produce sketches and acrylic paintings, with each group then selecting a colour most prominent in their own artwork and which made them feel happy, reflecting positivity and the journey to recovery to mental wellbeing.

The colours selected included yellow for optimism and wellbeing, red for vitality and strength, blue for wisdom and steadiness, green for security and balance, and purple for creativity.

The colours were then sent to Blairgowrie based weaver Ashleigh Slater to be woven at his studio Breacan Caledonia into a tartan to celebrate the project and promote wellbeing. The group named the tartan ‘Pride of Wellbeing’, and this will be displayed alongside the painting. The tartan has been registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans and will be added to their database of tartan designs.

The project also offers an opportunity to create your very own flowers in a vase drawing. The Edinburgh Sketcher will be delivering free sketching workshops within The Walled Garden on August 7 whilst the painting is on display. Spaces for this event are limited and are bookable through the Culture Perth and Kinross website.

JP Reid, Senior Programming & Interpretation Officer at Culture Perth and Kinross, said

‘We are thrilled to have been able to work with colleagues from PKAVS and the National Gallery to bring this wonderful painting to Perth. The Walled Garden is one of Perth & Kinross’s treasures – a truly inspiring place. Flowers in a Terracotta Vase is a dazzling work of artistic mastery. We hope that by displaying the painting amongst the flowers and plants of the walled garden, we can create an opportunity for people to be inspired and uplifted by art and nature.’

Caitlin Sweeney, Activity Engagement Worker for Creative Wellbeing at PKAVS Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub, said

‘We are so excited to host the painting Jan van Huysum’s spectacular ‘Flowers in a Terracotta Vase’. This is a real honour for our service and puts The Walled Garden on the map. It is so important for us to have the opportunity to share the work our charity does and raise awareness.

We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back into our garden to appreciate our beautiful and serene surroundings, highlighting the importance of mental wellbeing.

After working alongside strict COVID19 guidelines, it’s been refreshing to engage in a collaborative, community-based project. Having new and varied opportunities to engage with aids peoples’ sense of motivation, skills and confidence. As a mental health and wellbeing service, we embrace any partnerships which will support our client’s recovery journey.’

Jan van Huysum (1682–1749) was a native of Amsterdam and the last of the distinguished still-life painters active in the Northern Netherlands in the 17th and early 18th centuries, an internationally celebrated artist in his lifetime. His spectacular Flowers in a Terracotta Vase – which shows over 30 species of flowers and plants in bloom, unfurling in exquisite detail – is no shy, hide-in-a-corner painting. It’s meant to dazzle, and it does. Van Huysum is after and achieves excess: a celebration of nature, an entertaining puzzle and a display of wealth, culture and fashion.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says, ‘This astounding, large flower painting will make an unexpected appearance in unexpected venues across the country. I hope it will make people think about art and the beauty of nature, encourage their own creativity and inspire them to visit their own local museum or art collection.

Flowers in a Terracotta Vase will be displayed for public viewing at The Walled Garden based in the grounds of the Murray Royal Hospital from July 31 to August 8 2021, between 10am – 3pm every day. The venue is part of the PKAVS Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub.

This project is supported by

Art Explora – Académie des Beaux-Arts Award

Philippe and Stephanie Camu

The John S Cohen Foundation

Insurance has been gifted by Blackwall Green

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