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£3.6m portrait hanging in practice waiting room aims to improve access to art

by Anviksha Patel
7 May 2019

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A portrait worth £3.6m is on display in an East Yorkshire practice waiting room as part of an initiative to widen access to art.
The 17th century painting – entitled Self-portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria – is owned by London’s National Gallery and, in collaboration with the Paintings in Hospitals charity, will hang in Pocklington Group Practice from 29 April until 11 May.
Created by artist Artemisia Gentileschi, the painting will be taken on a series of visits to various venues as part of a bid to increase public access to art.
The practice has set up ‘viewing days’ for non-patients to visit the painting but stresses the practice is ‘still a working GP surgery’ so the public must bear that in mind when visiting.
Pocklington Group Practice’s senior GP partner Dr James Laing, said: ‘This has been a unique opportunity for which we are very grateful to the National Gallery and the Painting in Hospitals charity. It is a stunning painting that stands out even more on our walls than it would surrounded by other significant works of art.
‘The response from our patients and the town has been very positive – together with an element of surprise – as it’s not what you expect in the surgery.’
The practice’s managing partner, Berni Judge, said: ‘We want to be able to share Artemisia’s stay with as many of our local communities as possible, and so that is why we have created some “visiting times” when anyone can come and see her.
‘Another reason for these special events is that, alongside this exciting visit, we are a still a working GP surgery and therefore we need to be able to continue our day-to-day operations as smoothly as possible, so we ask people to please remember and respect that if they are planning to come and visit Artemisia.’
Amisha Karia, head of collection loans and programming at Paintings in Hospitals said the art work will not be the last to go on display at the surgery.
She said: ‘We believe art should be for everyone and we are committed to using art to support better health and wellbeing.
‘Following Artemisia’s visit, we will be working with patients and staff at the practice to co-select artworks from the Paintings in Hospitals collection to celebrate the many groundbreaking women artists represented.’
She added: ‘The chosen artworks will then go on display at the surgery for the next three years.’
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.