Why Ferens Art Gallery feels so inclusive

A small black furry dog facing a strong wind on an overcast beach. This is a photo that Chris Tooby shows me on her laptop computer at the cafe table. She enjoys painting sea side lanscapes like this. Muted grays and blues. For the open exhibition at the Ferens Art Gallery she managed to sell a few of her creations, writes Pelle Hjek.

“I was just waiting for that little red dot,” she says and adds that a red dot next to an art work means that it has been sold. Having local and contemporary artists exhibiting alongside changing collections of centuries old art is part of what makes Ferens Art Gallery feel so inclusive.

But as part of the team of City of Culture volunteers Chris’ involvement in Ferens goes beyond exhibiting art works. She got to choose her favourite art work and write the blurb on the label next to it for an volunteer organised exhibition. She chose Portrait of a girl by Franz Hals, which is “nicer than the Mona Lisa.”

It costs nothing to have a look at the art at Ferens, and sometimes people pop in just for 10 minutes on the way home from their shopping. There’s a dedicated creative room for children, which makes it a popular destination for school trips as well.

Helping the gallery guests find a particular piece of art or find the cafe are also part of what the volunteers at Ferens do, and according to Chris the cafe in the back makes a fabulous coffee and is not to be missed.

As good as both the art and the coffee is, Chris says that the place never gets too busy. If you have a few minutes to spare on your next shopping trip, perhaps you should have a quick look at this painting by Franz Hals and see if she’s right?

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