30th November 2020

Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece back on public display after its temporary removal

Following a fantastic response to its temporary removal – both at the gallery itself and on-line – Waterhouse’s Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ will be back on public display at Manchester Art Gallery from tomorrow, Saturday 3 February.
The painting – part of the gallery’s highly prized collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – was temporarily removed from display as part of a project the gallery is working on with the contemporary artist Sonia Boyce, in the build-up to a solo exhibition of her work at the gallery opening on 23 March 2018.
Boyce’s artwork is all about bringing people together in different situations to see what happens.  The painting’s short term removal from public view was the result of a ‘take-over’ of some of the gallery’s public spaces by gallery users and performance artists last Friday January 26th.
Since its filmed removal as part of the Boyce project a week ago, the painting and its temporary absence from the gallery has captured the attention of people everywhere, and in so doing has opened up a wider global debate about representation in art and how works of art are interpreted and displayed.
Given the sheer volume and breadth of discussion that has been sparked by the act of removing the painting, the gallery is now planning a series of public events to encourage further debate about these wider issues.
Amanda Wallace, Interim Director Manchester Art Gallery, said: “We’ve been inundated with responses to our temporary removal of Hylas and the Nymphs as part of the forthcoming Sonia Boyce exhibition, and it’s been amazing to see the depth and range of feelings expressed.
“The painting is rightly acknowledged as one of the highlights of our Pre-Raphaelite collection, and over the years has been enjoyed by millions of visitors to the gallery.
“We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it’s fair to say we’ve had that in spades – and not just from local people but from art-lovers around the world.
“Throughout the painting’s seven day absence, it’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.”

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