How a Da Vinci exhibition heading to Sunderland will inspire local artists

An exhibition of work by Leonardo da Vinci, which will go on display in Sunderland next year, has inspired a range of projects across the city.

Friday, 30th November 2018, 5:00 am
Neptune, c.1504-5, one of almost 150 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci will go on display in simultaneous exhibitions around the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master's death. Credit: Royal Collection Trust/PA Wire

Next February, 12 drawings by the Italian master will be on show at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens as part of a national tour to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

Sunderland is one of only 12 UK venues chosen by the Royal Collection Trust to simultaneously host the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life Drawing exhibition, which will feature a total of 144 of the Renaissance master’s drawings

Now Sunderland Culture has unveiled a series of community, schools, adult learning and family programmes all inspired by Leonardo’s work as an artist, inventor and scientist.

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Jo Cunningham, exhibitions, collections and archive manager at Sunderland Museum, explained: “We’re thrilled Sunderland was chosen by the Royal Collection Trust to host the exhibition and we’re sure people across the city will be eager to see the drawings in February.

“We’re using the drawings and the high-profile exhibition as a catalyst to inspire and educate through a programme of projects and activities for people of all ages.”

One such project, funded by Sunderland Council’s Washington Area Committee, is already underway - Andrew Tift, a renowned portrait artist famous for his paintings of leading politicians, has been working in three Washington residential homes to produce 15 portrait drawings of local pensioners. Andrew’s portraits will be on show as part of the exhibition in late February.

Participatory artist Richard Bliss is working in the same care homes delivering a series of art sessions as part of the same project.

Meanwhile, MA students from the University of Sunderland are working with FabLab to create their own inventions inspired by Leonardo.

The schools programme includes the provision of resources for Leonardo-themed in-gallery and classroom activities; drawing and inventors’ trails; school visits and assembles delivered by museum staff; and a British Science Festival themed week with Leonardo-themed workshops (March 11- 18).

The family programme includes: a Leonardo-themed art week during February half-term (February 18 – 22); a Museum code-cracker trail during February with clues and puzzles linked to Leonardo’s drawings; an Inventors’ trail for families at the Museum, which will run from March to May; a takeover by the Dominic Wilcox Little Inventors project during the Easter holidays; a catapults family workshop on Wednesday, April 17, and a series of animation workshops led by local artist Sheila Graber.

There will also be monthly exhibition sessions for families with children who have additional learning needs or learning disabilities, as well as a number of adult learning programmes.

•Leonardo da Vinci: A Life Drawing will be on display at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens from February 1 - May 6, 2019.

What to expect from the exhibition

Leonardo Da Vinci, who lived from 1452 to 1519, painted some of the most famous images in European art, with the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper among his most famous pieces.

The exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens will include examples of all the drawing materials employed by Leonardo, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metal point.

It will also present new information about Leonardo’s working practices and creative process, gathered through scientific research using a range of non-invasive techniques, including ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence.

The exhibitions will be on shows at venues across the country from February 1 to May 6.

The drawings will then be brought together to form part of an exhibition of more than 200 works at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in what is described as “the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years.”