Hull Through the Eyes of a Sculptor

Related works from Hull's collections

Many maritime artists came from a background as sign painters or from painting ships timbers. They were almost always local figures, who focused on ships easily accessible to them, and were patronised by local owners.

‘All the artists were in the thrall of the local ship owners who wanted records of their vessels as pride of onwership and a source of wealth’.
From Medieval to Regency –
Old Masters in the Collection of the Ferens Art Gallery

The painting ‘Westerdale’s Yard and the ‘Wellington’ from the New Dock’ by Robert Willoughby is in this tradition. In 1794 Robert Willoughby was recorded as a house and ship painter in High Street, Hull. Willoughby lived at Castle Row, Hull and had a shop at 10 Savile Street, Hull in 1810. 

He is one of the earliest Hull marine painters whose body of work, although small, is easily recognisable. All the surviving pictures have a strong sense of identity as if they were painted as a topographical record, rather than with any artistic intent. 

In this painting, a gentleman welcomes a group of ladies aboard his splendid ship. There are many other details of interest in the picture such as the row of bollards and chains to safeguard people from falling into the water at night. Visible behind the figures are the stockpiles of wood used in the construction of the ships and on the extreme left is the tower of the church of St John, built in 1791-92, and demolished in the 1920s to make way for the Ferens Art Gallery.

See Related Links at the bottom of the page for more paintings by Robert Willoughby.

Other Sound Work
The only other sculptural work in the collection which uses sound is Georgina Starr's 'Drivin On'. This work consists of a painted wooden car and video. The sound track includes 'Big Red Car', a song written and sung by Starr and she also acts as 'DJ Starr', introducing songs which have significant personal meaning.

Other works by contemporary artists with sound include:

Shizuka Yokomizo
When You Wake, 2003
Two screen video projection - sound includes breathing & music

Dalziel and Scullion
Water Falls Down, 2001
DVD, dimensions variable - various sounds i.e water gushing over rock to accompany image.

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