SKIN Symposium: The Nude in Art

 For our last Future Ferens event with the SKIN: Freud, Mueck, Tunick exhibition we had the exciting opportunity to host our very own SKIN Symposium. We wanted to get people talking and we hope that you will carry on the conversation too.

 From the exhibition, what got people talking in Hull was the unprecedented amount of nudity seen around the city – especially with the 3200+ people who stripped for Spencer Tunicks photos on that chilly June morning in 2016!

We had this event in the making for a while and we are so happy it came all together. Here’s our story of how it came together and some of the highlights you may have missed, or if you were there, that you want to relive! Many months ago we started the planning…we chose who we wanted to share opinions, who we wanted to ask to be in our debate panel, who we wanted hosting [which turned out to be me (Steph) and Phil White from Radio Humberside!], how we wanted the marketing to look and what social media would run.

We were really happy with the marketing media designs that came back and we hope you did too! After all the blue paint was very fitting for the exhibition! We loved it so much it became our backdrop for the symposium.


 Throughout all the planning we were really conscious that we didn’t just want it to be about our thoughts and opinions. So that we could see the opinions of people from Hull, two of our own, Devon and Lucy went out with some paintings from the exhibition asking people ‘which do you think is more naked?’ and ‘which is more shocking?!’…. there were definitely some interesting responses. Lots of people came back saying that none of them were really ‘shocking’ as we see nudity more and more in the media, but that Tunick’s nudity en mass certainly grabbed their attention!


Of course from the get-go we wanted to ask Kirsten Simister our Curator of Art to share about the exhibition and kick off our symposium. She was brill and told the story of how Future Ferens came to be (check out our other posts to find more on that!) and showcased some of the amazing exhibitions from the gallery.


Next up we heard from one of the Future Ferens team. In one of our meetings, Devon, one of our newest members mentioned that she was actually quite interested about the nude in art…we immediately responded that it would be brilliant for her to write and deliver a talk about the ‘Young Person’s Perspective’…off she went to write it and what she came up with was amazing!

 An artist at heart, Devon also added some comedic illustrations to give our art a very different twist…[check out her upcoming blog post for more of her additions]


 Lucy, another Future Ferens, hosted our next session with participants from Tunick’s Sea of Hull. One of the participants, Helen, brought along some of her Tunick memorabilia including her Sea of Hull t-shirt with blue hand prints all over. As she told it, at the preview event she turned round to a random man and asked him to put his hand prints all over her bum, and of course he obliged! Unfortunately she didn’t take his name… it was at this point that a voice piped up from the audience shouting ‘It was me!’…

 One of the other highlights of the day was our Skype conversation with Spencer Tunick all the way from Mexico. Thankfully the internet connection held up even though he was forecast storms in Mexico! All of the audience submitted loads of questions to be asked. We had a great chat with him and asked all about his art, how he began as an artist, his favourite photographs and his dream locations.


The more we spoke about the art, the more we wanted to explore the galleries again. So we took a break to go to explore and find things that others had pointed out beforehand…

 The Debate. Well we had some interesting opinions, some of our audience quickly disagreed with points, others passionately told their own stories in agreement – it was really fun! We had a great team with artist Dom Heffer, Zirvana one of our Future Ferens who spoke from a medical perspective as she is doing a Phd in Anatomy, Lucy another Future Ferens who is an emerging artist, Kirsten our Curator of Art and Cat another Future Ferens who is passionate about art and literature.  All with some brilliant hosting, David Dimbleby style, from Phil!


This may have been the last event we did for the SKIN exhibition but watch this space for more posts and the next Turner Prize events…!

If you have any more stories from SKIN then leave us a comment!

Thanks to Luke for taking photos of the Future Ferens perspective and also Photographer Kevin Ladden.

Thanks to Heritage Learning and Alison from Bodley Heritage for all their input making this event happen.

SKIN // Symposium