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National Gallery painting goes on display at Belfast’s Portview Trade Centre for 'Jan van Huysum Visits' (11–17 August 2021)

Issued August 2021

A Dutch masterpiece from the National Gallery, Jan van Huysum’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7), will go on public display at Portview Trade Centre from tomorrow (11 August) to 17 August.

Belfast is the final stop on the Jan van Huysum Visits tour, which has this summer visited Cornwall, Norfolk, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Scotland.

Portview is an area of economic deprivation that straddles both nationalist and unionist communities. It was first the location of a linen spinning mill when textiles were a prominent industry in Northern Ireland in the early 20th century. As the linen industry declined across the region, mills like Portview fell into disuse. In the 1980s, Portview was revived and reimagined as a series of workspaces for small businesses.

The site is a remarkable example of the conservation and adaptation of a historic space, many of the features of the mill remain and yet the units are modern. Today it houses many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) including pottery studios, mushroom growers, and a small batch brewery.

Each display on the 'Jan van Huysum Visits' tour explores one of the six ‘Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, and Care (for the planet). The theme for the Belfast display is ‘Take Notice.’ The tour promotes ways in which art and culture can support wellbeing and reach audiences who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and the UK lockdown.

In Northern Ireland, the display – and accompanying events and activities programme – will be curated by a group of 16-25-year-old young programmers from Reimagine, Remake, Replay (RRR). This project engages young people in museums across Northern Ireland and employs digital technology and creative media to interpret collections. It is led by a consortium of partners including Nerve Centre, National Museums NI, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Northern Ireland Screen, and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick the Dust programme.

In collaboration with Urban Scale Interventions, the RRR group are the first to take over a new community gallery space in Portview Trade Centre, called What’s the Story? The What’s the Story? that aims to celebrate both the old and new stories of East Belfast.

'Jan van Huysum Visits' is one of the Gallery’s national partnerships which aims to share paintings across the UK, creating a range of ways for the widest possible audience to explore and be inspired by the collection.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says, ‘This astounding, large flower painting will make an unexpected appearance in unexpected venues across the country. I hope it will make people think about art and the beauty of nature, encourage their own creativity and inspire them to visit their own local museum or art collection.’

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI comments: ‘We are excited to work in partnership with Portview on this new exhibition and engagement space and are delighted that it has launched with the display of this masterpiece from the National Gallery.  At National Museums NI, we endeavour to find educational ways for everyone to engage with heritage. Innovative projects like this help us to reimagine the role that museums play in society and allow us to connect people in Belfast and beyond with our collections in unexpected ways.’

‘Flowers in a Terracotta Vase’ can be viewed at the Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Rd, from 11–17 August.

This project is supported by

Art Explora - Académie des Beaux-Arts Award
Philippe and Stephanie Camu
The John S Cohen Foundation

Insurance has been gifted by Blackwall Green

Notes to editors


Jan van Huysum
'Flowers in a Terracotta Vase'
Oil on canvas
133.5 x 91.5 cm
© The National Gallery, London

About Jan van Huysum and Flowers in a Terracotta Vase

Jan van Huysum (1682–1749) was a native of Amsterdam and the last of the distinguished still-life painters active in the Northern Netherlands in the 17th and early 18th centuries, an internationally celebrated artist in his lifetime. His spectacular 'Flowers in a Terracotta Vase' – which shows over 30 species of flowers and plants in bloom, unfurling in exquisite detail – is no shy, hide-in-a-corner painting. It’s meant to dazzle and it does. Van Huysum is after, and achieves, excess: a celebration of nature, an entertaining puzzle and a display of wealth, culture and fashion.

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at

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About Reimagine, Remake, Replay

Reimagine, Remake, Replay aims to connect young people and heritage through meaningful ways through creative media and the latest technologies while delving into museums collections in new ways.

The Reimagine, Remake, Replay programme is led by a consortium including Nerve Centre, National Museums Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Northern Ireland Screen, and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick the Dust programme. The project plans to connect with more than 4,000 16–25-year-olds with Museum’s and heritage through the use of creative media and the very latest cutting-edge digital technologies.

Art Explora

Aware that culture has the power to initiate dialogue, bring people together and make us stronger, French entrepreneur and patron Frédéric Jousset created Art Explora in November 2019, a philanthropic foundation with an international, roving and digital ambition. Renewing the promise of making culture more accessible, Art Explora aims to bridge the cultural divide, notably by broadcasting digital content and engaging in innovative projects available to all and thereby creating new meetings between works and a broad and diverse audience, all the while supporting creation, cultural actors and their initiatives.

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