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Science Museum Group celebrates Terence Cuneo

The remarkable career of British artist Terence Cuneo is to be celebrated in a new exhibition from the Science Museum Group as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. The exhibition will run at the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library from 13 December.

Widely-recognised as the world’s greatest railway artist, Cuneo was the official artist for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Originally taking inspiration from Cuneo’s painting of The Queen’s visit to Hull in 1957, the Science Museum Group has created Painting Power: The Art of Terence Cuneo.

Curated by the Science Museum Group’s Director Ian Blatchford and National Railway Museum Assistant Director and Head Curator Andrew McLean, the exhibition takes a fresh look at Cuneo through his unique portrayal of power.

Drawing on extraordinary loan material from across the UK to supplement the Science Museum Group’s already rich collection, the exhibition features his drawings for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War; his well–loved railway paintings and posters; depictions of industrial power and process; and his portrayal of a different type of power – the benign power of sovereign and state.

Science Museum Group Director and exhibition co-curator Ian Blatchford said: ‘This is one of the most important bodies of work of any 20th century British artist. The chance to celebrate Cuneo’s influential life and work as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, drawing on incredible and varied collections including the Science Museum Group’s own, is a real privilege.’

Our wonderful exhibitions have helped put the University firmly on the map as a place to see world class visual art and have attracted tens of thousands of visitors to our beautiful campus. We can’t wait to welcome this latest exhibition. Professor Glenn Burgess, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull

Professor Glenn Burgess, University of Hull Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Hull 2017 Board Member, said: ‘We are excited to be hosting the work of such a celebrated artist. This exhibition caps off a wonderful cultural year for the University of Hull, during which we have hosted works by some of the world’s most famous artists, and it takes us forward into 2018 as we build on the legacy of UK City of Culture. Our wonderful exhibitions have helped put the University firmly on the map as a place to see world class visual art and have attracted tens of thousands of visitors to our beautiful campus. We can’t wait to welcome this latest exhibition.’

During his life, Cuneo had a highly productive relationship with the Science Museum. He received several commissions from the museum, including his monumental depiction of Waterloo Station in 1967. The artwork, which currently takes pride of place in the National Railway Museum’s Station Hall, was painted in the Science Museum building and even features some members of museum staff, alongside Harold Wilson, Cuneo himself, with his wife and daughter, and one of his famous mice. From 1953 onwards, Cuneo painted a mouse into each of his works.

Central to the exhibition is the sense of Cuneo’s incredible attention to detail. He worked meticulously, often in adverse conditions, to capture scenes with amazing accuracy. A painting of Clapham Junction displayed in the exhibition was painted in several sessions from a vantage point high above the tracks with cinders from steam engines passing underneath landing on the still-drying canvas. His painting The Lying-in-State of Sir Winston Churchill was prepared with 30-second sketches every half an hour as the public waited for the changing of the Watch, the result retaining a sombre and arresting power.

This painting has been generously loaned to the exhibition by the Parliamentary Art Committee, and other kind lenders include the artist’s daughter Carole Cuneo, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and Hull Guildhall.

Painting Power: The Art of Terence Cuneo will run as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 at the Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull from 13 December 2017 to 15 April 2018.

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