Visitors to the Ferens Art Gallery are being invited to take a colourful journey into the imagination and experiences of disabled artist Jason Wilsher-Mills in a new exhibition.

Created in response to disabled communities in Hull, Wakefield, Manchester and Japan, Jason’s theatrical portraits and sculptures reflect aspects of his personality, memory, and disability. This family-friendly exhibition includes giant colourful inflatable sculptures and interactive experiences.

Jason’s fun, empowering and insightful creations are designed to excite and move. Through the exhibition, visitors will gain a greater understanding of our world and how those with disabilities experience it.

Jason has exhibited at and been commissioned by The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, and the Houses of Parliament, amongst other international venues. He has a long connection with Hull and the surrounding area, having worked on projects with Artlink, the University of Hull, and Streetlife Museum.

Alongside the exhibition is an exciting programme of events and activities for all ages and abilities, including an artist talk by Jason in May. Working with local disability organisations and artists, this extensive programme for families and young people includes relaxed openings, accessible workshops with artists, school holiday craft sessions and regular baby sensory sessions. Find out more about the events at www.ferensartgallery.co.uk

On Saturday (24 February) there will be a family launch day for the exhibition with a host of free activities inspired by Jason’s work. Visitors can drop in at the gallery between 11am and 2pm to create an antler headband, dinosaur mask, mini character puppet sticks and help to make a big string of decorated giant underpants bunting.

Speaking on his upcoming exhibition, Jason said: “I am so pleased and honoured to show my work at the Ferens Art Gallery, as the city of Hull, and surrounding areas, has played such an important role in my work as an artist, as it has inspired the themes and imagery of my work.

“As a child growing up in Wakefield, my holidays to Withernsea in the 1970s were the most magical experiences and the town has had a huge impact on my practice. Withernsea was the place I first experienced art when I saw a painting of Dr Who on a fairground ride at the age of six. My journey to the seaside town had many milestones, including travelling through Hull, which led to cries of ‘Are we there yet?’.

“I am constantly returning to those formative experiences, which I believe shaped me as an artist. I am incredibly excited that I get an opportunity to explore these themes more, though working with the gallery’s collection, from which I will create new work.”

Kerri Offord, Curator of Art at Ferens Art Gallery, said:

“To be able to showcase a selection of existing work alongside some new surprises and to engage the people of Hull with experiences of disability in a fun and multisensory way has brought a huge amount of excitement to the Ferens team.

“To be able to contextualise Jason’s experience of disability with the joy of childhood memories, discovery and imaginative escapism will create an exhibition that all can relate to."

Councillor Rob Pritchard, portfolio holder for culture and leisure said:

“Jason’s exhibition is really bold, colourful and exciting and I look forward to welcoming it to the Ferens. I already know it will prove incredibly popular with visitors of all ages.”

The exhibition opens at the Ferens Art Gallery on Saturday 24 February and runs until Sunday 2 June, entry is free.

Published: Monday, 19th February 2024