Skip to main content

Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling – major new art exhibition comes to University of Hull

A stunning new art exhibition opens this week at the University of Hull as part of the City of Culture celebrations.  

27th March 2017

Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling: BP Portrait Award commissions from the National Portrait Gallery brings together some of the best artists in contemporary portraiture, depicting household names such as athlete Dame Kelly Holmes and actors Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren, as well as author J.K. Rowling and designer Paul Smith. 

It follows the hugely popular Lines of Thought exhibition earlier this year, which attracted more than 20,000 visitors to the University’s art gallery based in the Brynmor Jones Library. 

Part of the University’s Principal Partner contribution to Hull UK City of Culture 2017, the free exhibition opens on Wednesday 29 March and runs until June. 

Professor Glenn Burgess, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, said: “We are delighted to be able to host such a stunning selection of portraits at the University during Hull 2017. 

“Not only does the exhibition depict a wonderful range of famous faces, from actors to athletes and beyond, but the artists responsible have used an amazing variety of styles and compositions in creating these beautiful works. 

“We can’t wait to welcome visitors to the latest major event in our Hull 2017 programme.”  

The works in this display have all been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of the first prize of the BP Portrait Award. The Award, now in its 27th year of sponsorship by BP, is aimed at encouraging artists to develop portraiture within their work. 

First prize winners of the Award are invited to create a portrait of a public figure making an important contribution to British history and culture. Subjects have been selected for their achievements in the arts and sciences; in politics and philanthropy. Spanning a period of over 20 years, these works are testament to the great talent and range of competing artists and form a key part of the Gallery’s Contemporary Collection. 

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “The commissions of the BP Portrait Award first prize winners are some of the most striking and popular works of the National Portrait Gallery’s twentieth-century and contemporary Collections. We look forward to sharing them with visitors to the University of Hull, who will have the rare opportunity to see all the BP Portrait Award commissioned portraits.”  

Ms Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, said: “We are delighted that these wonderful portraits painted by the first prize winners of the BP Portrait Award, the world’s most prestigious painting competition, are all coming to the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull. These are portraits of some of the most important figures in British life and it will be very special to see them brought together for Hull UK City of Culture 2017.” 

University of Hull students have been given an amazing opportunity to get involved in the City of Culture programme on campus, including being trained up as gallery assistants working on exhibitions like Lines of Thought and Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling. 

Lizzie Rogers, student gallery assistant, said: “I can’t wait for this latest exhibition to open. Lines of Thought was such a wonderful experience to be part of and I think visitors are going to fall in love with these art works too.” 

The exhibition runs from 29 March to 11 June, seven days a week. Opening hours vary. Booking is encouraged but not essential via where there are also more details on dates and times. Entry is free.  

School and group visits are welcome – please contact if you would like to arrange a group visit.