Unleash your inner Michelangelo as Sistine Chapel exhibition comes to Hull Minster

The arts activities supporting the Sistine Chapel exhibition at Hull Minster will be delivered by Our Big Picture, which has previously led a successful Art in the Minster programme at Grimsby Minster.

An extensive programme of arts and community activities has been announced to enable people to reveal their artistic talents, inspired by a spectacular exhibition heading to Hull.

“Michelangelo – A Different View” will see superb reproductions of the Renaissance master’s Sistine Chapel works displayed in 700-year-old Hull Minster, with visitors able to view the iconic scenes in a religious setting outside the Vatican for the first time.

The exhibition showcases the entire set of Sistine Chapel works, including the famous “Creation of Adam”, a depiction of God giving life to the first man, and a six metres square reproduction of “The Last Judgement”.

The free exhibition is being staged from October 8 to November 18, with visitors able to admire the masterpieces from a distance of just two metres and without time constraints.

Now, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, a wide range of arts and community activities inspired by the exhibition have been announced. 

The programme is intended to involve as many people as possible, enabling them to express their own creativity and learn new skills.

Delivered by North East Lincolnshire-based arts organisation Our Big Picture (OBP), all of the events and workshops will be delivered within Hull Minster while the exhibition is being staged. They include:

  • “Created Together” – a free community drop-in activity for all ages, creating a large-scale contemporary artwork based on Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”.
  • “Drawn Together” – a free Michelangelo-inspired national “Big Draw” event, exploring different ways of making art and using hands as inspiration.
  • Children and young people’s workshops with local artist Emma Garness, alongside guest artists. Community groups, home-educated families, schools, or college groups will explore art history, traditional art skills and create contemporary artwork. 
  • Adult workshops – a two-day life painting course with two clothed models, led by Beverley-based artist Esther Cawley. Over 16s will create their own large-scale acrylic painting on canvas, drawing on inspiration from Michelangelo’s work and resulting in a canvas painting for participants to keep.
  • Two-hour, weekly life drawing courses with Esther in which a clothed life model will re-stage poses from the frescoes on display. Participants will take away a portfolio of work.
  • Guest curator talks – art historian Helena Cox, Curator at Beverley Art Gallery, and John Heffernan, Senior Curator at Humber Street Gallery, will share their expertise.
  • Art competition, sponsored by Hull Trains – members of the public can create their own artwork directly inspired by “Creation of Adam”. The winners will have the opportunity to feature in an exhibition at Hull Minster in February 2020. 

Paula Denton, Creative and Managing Director at OBP, which has led a successful Art in the Minster programme at Grimsby Minster, said: “The Sistine Chapel exhibition is a stunning installation and something very special. 

“I can imagine it will be quite overwhelming to be able to see the brushstrokes of the master Michelangelo, look at the detail and form, see how he has drawn people, and take in the Renaissance colours.

“This arts programme will give people the chance to extend their experience beyond what they will be able to see in the Minster. Whether you’ve never picked up a brush before, you’re an artist, a family, or a community group, there is something for all abilities and all ages.”

Visitors admire “The Last Judgement” in Winchester, the only other UK venue for the “Michelangelo – A Different View” exhibition. Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency.

Esther develops and delivers workshops and drop-in events for art establishments alongside exhibitions including at Ferens Art Gallery, Beverley Art Gallery and Humber Street Gallery. 

She said: “As a figurative, visual artist, this is a very exciting opportunity.

 “We are going to re-stage scenes from the frescoes with clothed life models. We will recreate some of the poses and use rich drapery and lighting, which will be quite a spectacle in Hull Minster, and we want to offer it to the widest audience possible.

“In the life painting sessions, participants will create a robust piece of artwork on canvas, which they can take away, while the evening life drawing classes look at some of the techniques Renaissance artists used in sketching and preparatory work.

“Participants don’t need to have any experience. I will guide and support them through it and they will have a rich portfolio at the end of it.”

Bishop Frank White, Interim Minister at Hull Minster, said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce this exciting programme, inspired by the Sistine Chapel exhibition.

“The funding we have received from Arts Council England has enabled us to go up a gear in removing barriers to the community engaging with art, with the high-quality input of professional artists.

“The support from Arts Council England also includes funding for research into the relationship between Hull Minster and the wider visual arts scene in Hull, in order that we can complement the existing offer, using the Minster as a unique exhibition space.”

To find out more about the programme, or to book a place, visit www.hullminster.org/sistine from early September onwards.

[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]