Perth’s Walled Garden, in the grounds of the Murray Royal Hospital, unveiled a very special surprise today – an original painting by one of the 18th Century Dutch masters.
Flowers in a Terracotta Vase by internationally-renowned painter Jan van Huysum is being shown in the community space until August 8, giving people a rare opportunity to see a classic masterpiece in a non-museum setting.
The painting is a celebration of nature, featured more than 30 different types of flowers unfurling into full bloom.
Painted almost 300 years ago, it is being welcomed to Perth as part of the a
national tour, Jan van Huysum Visits, organised by Culture Perth and Kinross, the National Gallery and Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS).
Perth is the only Scottish venue on the UK tour.
The painting is being displayed in non-museum venues in each region, including a food bank and community library. The idea behind the project is to use art and culture to support wellbeing and reach audiences who have been disproportionately affected by lockdown.
JP Reid, exhibitions and interpretations officer at Culture Perth and Kinross, deemed the project “very exciting”. He added: “We’re thrilled that we’re the only Scottish venue.
“Aside from the fact that it’s really special and unusual to have such an important painting in a non-museum venue, I think it’s exciting to be able to celebrate the Walled Garden. It’s such a special place.
“I think that people will get a lot from seeing a painting like this in a place like that.”
The Walled Garden Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub in Perth was selected to
encourage people to explore their local community and link art with their surroundings,
offering a reprieve from the challenges of living life during a pandemic.
Kirsty McKay, activity engagement worker at PKAVS, welcomed the painting’s Perth stop, saying: “It’s an amazing, exciting opportunity. It’s totally a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal.
“And it’s just quite special that our group of clients and our community are getting to experience something like that.
“We work with such a variety of people, of different economic and social backgrounds, religions and walks of life. So the opportunity to engage with something at this level is something that is unreal.
“Not everyone can access the arts, in terms of things like going to the National Gallery to see it themselves.”
Stop and paint the flowers
And the Walled Garden has organised activities to help people engage with the work, not just see it.
Artist Frances Law has been using the Walled Garden as an inspiration for groups to produce sketches and acrylic paintings. Each group selected a colour which made them feel happy, reflecting the journey to recovery to mental wellbeing.
The colours were then sent to Blairgowrie-based weaver Ashleigh Slater to be woven at his studio Breacan Caledonia into a tartan.
The project is also offering an opportunity for people to create their very own “flowers in a vase” drawing. The Edinburgh Sketcher will be delivering free sketching workshops within the Walled Garden on August 7 whilst the painting is on display.
Kirsty encouraged locals to come along to visit the temporary exhibition, saying: “It’s beautiful right now in the garden. Just like the painting, it’s in full bloom, with all the colours. So it’s very apt.”
Flowers in a Terracotta Vase is being displayed for public viewing at the Walled Garden, based in the grounds of the Murray Royal Hospital from July 31 to August 8 2021, between 10am and 3pm.