Warrington Museum secures funding to bring important pieces from the Walker

Fildes, Luke; Fanny, Lady Fildes; Walker Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/fanny-lady-fildes-97332

Warrington Museum secures funding to bring important pieces from the Walker

Warrington Museum has been awarded a grant to help it bring three key works from the National Museum’s Walker Art Gallery to its galleries. 

It is one of 13 venues nationally to receive funding from The Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund to support the wider sharing of national collections with museums across the whole of the UK.

The Weston Loan Programme will support the borrowing of three important works from the Liverpool based gallery by prominent Warrington artists; on show next year in an exhibition which celebrates the 170th anniversary of the museum’s foundation.

The loan includes two pieces by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes – a former pupil of the Warrington School of Art, which was originally housed in the same grade II listed building the museum occupies today.

His portrait of Fanny Fildes pays homage to his wife and helped him secure an established reputation as a leading portrait artist, leading to commissions with Edward VII and George V.

The second Fildes painting going on show, The Widower, was originally exhibited at the Royal Academy and helped Fildes become recognised as a leading social realist artist.

The third painting, Oxen Drawing a Block of Stone to the Studio of John Warrington Wood in Rome 1872 by Enrico Coleman, depicts an important event in the life of another former Warrington School of Art pupil, John Warrington Wood.

He would go on to carve the block into the statue of St Michael overcoming Satan, which was the impetus for building the main art gallery in the museum in 1877.

It will be the first time the painting is shown in Warrington; it will be exhibited in the gallery created by Warrington Wood’s fellow townspeople to honour his work, close to the St Michael overcoming Satan statue.

The grant will fund the costs associated with return transport of the artworks to and from the Walker Gallery to ensure the paintings’ frames are safe to travel.

It will also support a range of activities linked to the exhibition and associated marketing costs.

Culture Warrington, which runs the museum, has also secured a separate grant from Arts Council England to improve security and the gallery environment when the pieces go on show.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager at Culture Warrington, said: “We believe that these loans will help re-establish the regional and national status Warrington Museum once held as the earliest public museum in the North West.

“They will also deliver our objectives to bring great art and heritage to all by augmenting some of our forgotten treasures contrasted with items for a major regional partner, whilst highlighting the importance of Warrington Museum’s collections and inspiring future Warrington young artists.

Steven Deuchar, Art Fund director, added: “We knew the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund addressed a vital need; our national museums want to widen access to the collections they hold, and institutions around the UK want to share these works with their audiences.

“We’re pleased to provide the means to enable the greater sharing of art, but, just as importantly, to help empower museums to realise their ambitions.

The exhibition will open to the public in May 2018.