A large inflatable sculpture

Visitors to the Ferens Art Gallery’s latest exhibition, Jason Wilsher-Mills: Are We There Yet?, will be able to enjoy the work for longer, as the gallery has acquired a piece.

The Withernsea 2 was commissioned by the Ferens as part of the current exhibition and captures the important influence that the region has had on Jason. The two brothers portray joyful childhood memories by the sea and the detailed decoration tells the story of Jason’s artistic awakening.

The sculpture was inspired by the Roos Carr Iron Age wooden figures, which were discovered in 1836, near Withernsea, and are now part of the Hull Museums collection. The designs on the sculpture not only tell the story of Jason’s life, but also those who lived in the region. The Celts are represented through the tattoo designs on the surface of the men, and through the way their legs come together in an intricate Celtic knot.

Speaking about the piece, Artist Jason Wilsher-Mills said: “I was instantly drawn to the Roos Carr figures, as Withernsea has played such an important role in my development. My work celebrates playing on the beach, with my sister Tracey and local children, in the 1970s, and playing in Jimmy’s amusement arcade, trying to make 20p last all morning.

“My approach to creating the work was to imagine what characters the Ross Carr figures represented. They are brothers and their closeness is reflected through the fact that their bodies have become merged.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Jason continued: “I am so proud that my new sculpture ‘The Withernsea 2’ is to be part of the permanent collection at Ferens Gallery.

“The gallery has always been a very special place for me, having visited it 30 years ago, as a young art student. I remember marvelling at the collection there…and now 35 years later my own work is to be exhibited and be part of the collection, alongside my artistic heroes, such as Jacob Epstein, Gwen John and Walter Sickert.

“I cannot thank the wonderful team at Ferens for this great honour they have given me, a working class disabled artist, and I intend to be a friend of the gallery for years to come.”

Kerri Offord, Curator of Art at Ferens Art Gallery, said: “To be able to acquire ‘The Withernsea 2’ for the collection allows us to mark the success of Jason’s exhibition and the importance of his work, not just to Hull and Yorkshire, but as an internationally significant artist.

“His work explores important narratives about disability, that are sometimes emotive and challenging, in an accessible and engaging way. We look forward to showing Jason’s work at the Ferens for years to come.”

The Are We There Yet? exhibition and events programme continue until Sunday 2 June, with activities for all ages and abilities. 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

Published: Thursday, 9th May 2024