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Your Paintings light up the UK

08/02/13

To launch a nationwide celebration of Your Paintings - a website showing the entire UK national collection of over 210,000 oil paintings - images of publicly owned artworks will be projected onto 28 iconic buildings and landmarks around the country on the evening of Friday 08 February.

Between 4.30pm and 10pm the projections will be made onto buildings as diverse as the Town House, Aberdeen, Exeter Cathedral, Carrickfergus Castle in Northern Ireland and George's Dock Building in Liverpool.

They will all show four paintings of national interest, ranging from Vincent Van Gogh's instantly recognisable Sunflowers in the National Gallery to lesser known works depicting life in the UK such as The Clay Pits, 1923 by Cornish painter Harold C. Harvey.

Each light show will also contain three paintings specific to the region in which they are shown including Coming from the Mill, 1930 by L. S. Lowry in England, Monarch of the Glen, 1851 by Edwin Henry Landseer in Scotland, artwork for a British Railways poster of Cardiff Castle, 1960 by Ronald George Lampitt in Wales and a View of the City of Londonderry from the East Bank of the River Foyle, c.1780-1790 by an unknown artist in Northern Ireland.

The projections mark the start of a month of exhibitions and events organised by the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation to celebrate the completion of Your Paintings, a website showing the entire UK national collection of over 210,000 oil paintings: bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings

Hundreds of oil paintings, which have not been seen by the public in generations will go on show at galleries, museums and civic buildings across the UK from 8th - 28th February 2013. They include one of the last paintings by 'Pitman Painter' Jimmy Floyd, Frozen Pit Pond, 1974, on show for the first time at Woodhorn Museum and Northumbria Archives, and a portrait of Wales' first female town mayor, Miss Gwenllian E. F. Morgan (elected 1910/11), exhibited to the public for the first time in 50 years at the Council Chamber of The Guildhall in Brecon, Powys.

Held in over 3,000 galleries, museums and other civic buildings around the country, these paintings span over 600 years of art history – arguably the greatest national collection of its kind in the world. Due to limitations of exhibition space, 80% of these works are normally held in storage and not easily visible to the people who own them – the UK public.

The public is invited to 'tag' paintings in their local collections on the website. This data will allow future users of the Your Paintings website to easily find paintings by subjects, themes and events that interest them. The tagging process doesn't require expert knowledge, but those with specialist information on paintings in the collection are invited to contact the Public Catalogue Foundation.

Andrew Ellis from the Public Catalogue Foundation said: 'No other country has ever embarked on such a project to make accessible online its entire collection of oil paintings. The result is an extraordinary rich and varied virtual gallery of paintings with styles and subject matters to suit all tastes and interests. Anyone can now contribute to the project by tagging paintings so that the paintings can be searched in future. Tagging is easy, fun and really quite addictive.'

Saul Nassť, Controller BBC Learning said: 'The idea that we could put on virtual display all the UK's paintings was madly ambitious, but thanks to a brilliant partnership with the PCF, we've realised that ambition. Your Paintings is a thing of beauty and I'm hoping the events that we're rolling out right across the country are going to inspire thousands more people to learn about these wonderful paintings.'

Taken together, this collection of 211, 861 paintings presents an unparalleled insight into the nation's culture and history. Paintings by over 37,000 artists are on the Your Paintings website, including Old Masters and works by leading British artists. Just under 30,000 paintings do not have firm artist attributions, leaving the possibility of important discoveries in years to come. The National Trust is the largest single collection on the website with 12,567 paintings however, approximately half of the collections on the site have ten or fewer paintings. The vast majority of the collection has never been photographed before.

To see and tag Your Paintings and find out more about visiting participating galleries, museums and public buildings, please visit: bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings