Another first for Hull: Striking Ron Mueck contemporary sculpture joins Hull’s art collection

A striking male nude by one of the world’s leading sculptors will join the permanent collection at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull – Art Fund Museum of the Year finalist.

It is one of the first works by Ron Mueck to be acquired by a museum in the UK with the only other rare examples belonging to Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland.

His new work Poke (2017) was specifically made for the Ferens exhibition, SKIN, held during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture 2017. It will return to display in the gallery from Tuesday 12 June – but this time to stay.

Australian-born Ron Mueck is widely recognised for his meticulously crafted, intimate, yet enigmatic sculptures. Drawing on memory, imagination and observation, his works explore what it means to be human, both physically and psychologically. Through our encounter with them, Mueck invites us to reflect on our own interior lives and experiences.

Mueck said: “I generally prefer not to work to a specific brief. I like to start a work with a notion and see what develops. However, responding to my visit to Hull (which had just been nominated ‘UK City of Culture 2017’) and the enthusiasm of the team at Ferens Art Gallery, I knew I wanted to make a work that had a distinct sense of looking forward and striving for something. Focus and directed attention.
“Determination….with a light touch. That’s where I started and ‘Poke’ is what grew out of it.”

The significant acquisition has been made possible with high-level support from the Art Fund while making use of the Ferens Endowment Fund which is ring-fenced for the purchase of art works for the gallery.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, Chair of Hull Culture and Leisure Limited, said: “We are delighted to secure this sculpture, made for Hull. Ron Mueck’s incredibly life-like figures were amongst the most popular loans at the gallery over the course of the last year and securing Poke further demonstrates our bold ambitions for place-making and bringing the very best art to the city.”

Kirsten Simister, Curator of Art at the Ferens Art Gallery, said: “This amazing sculpture has a strong existing relationship with Hull and huge resonance with the collection with its strong focus on portraiture and the body. Our existing sculpture collection is good but small, and this work significantly extends its development and future potential. The artist visited us to discuss and plan in 2015 and Poke is the result – a brand new work created especially for Hull.

“It is incredibly exciting to be able to add this piece to the city’s holdings and we could not have asked for a better legacy from the Ferens’ year.”

Rachael Browning, Acting Head of Programmes for Art Fund, said: “The Ferens Art Gallery’s acquisition of Ron Mueck’s ‘Poke’ is yet another sign of the ambition of this energetic organisation as they continue to celebrate being a hub for UK City of Culture and a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018. We’re sure this sculpture will be popular with visitors from Hull and beyond for years to come.”

Entry is free and open: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sunday 11am – 4.30pm.