As a student in Hull one of my favourite haunts was The Sailmakers Arms as they hosted a weekly Jaz night (which also included a quiz and free chips, both staples of a film student’s life). Each week I, along with an ever-changing assortment of friends, acquaintances and drinking buddies would descend on the pub, before heading to the live music area upstairs. There we would drink and listen to an eclectic mix of the good, the great and the questionable as they played original songs and Jazz classics. It is, and always will be, one of my lasting memories of being a student in Hull and helped to solidify my love of Jazz.
There are more than a few artists who have used the increased attention on Hull in 2017 as a platform to launch their own artistic careers. They have taken the initiative and taken, what is in many cases, a huge leap of faith and decided to put their art out into the world for all to see. Anyone taking this step deserves credit for simply trying. If they then go on to forge a career as an artist and make a living doing something they love, they are to be applauded.
I have been able to meet dozens of artists this year, through various projects I’ve been involved with, who have taken this step. Some of these have been shocked to discover that the journey is far from easy. Those who have gone in with their eyes wide open however, have been able to carve out their own places in the City of Culture, and further afield.
Hull is a place with a bright future, thanks in no small part, to the numerous changes and developments we’ve seen take place over the last few years. The things that make Hull the city it is however, are based in it’s past. They are attitudes and stories that have grown from the city’s rich and compelling history, it’s people, the families that have called Hull their home and those who we have welcomed, and said farewell to as they leave, often carrying a piece of Hull in their heart.
This week saw the first Hull Street Food Festival draw in over ten thousand people, who filled the newly refurbished, regenerated and revitalised Trinity Square and made a part of town that has for many years been neglected, feel vibrant and exciting. The bustling festival was just the latest in a long line of events and exhibitions in recent months that showed how far Hull has come, and how far it is going as a result of being named City of Culture.
Next month sees a stunning audio-visual production coming to Hull in the form of Addictive TV’s Orchestra of Samples. Having spent the last five years filming, sampling, collating and editing pieces from over 200 musicians from across the world, Addictive TV – the joint alias of audio/video remixers and electronic artists Graham Daniels and mash-up guru Mark Vidler (aka Go Home Productions) have combined those pieces to create what is effectively a super-group, consisting of artists who have, in most cases, never even crossed paths.
As the city centre bids farewell to the stunning installation that was The Blade, we welcome more art in the form of the incredible, moving and poignant installation that is the Weeping Window.
A cascade of thousands of brilliant red hand-made ceramic poppies can be seen pouring from a window high up on the Maritime Museum, to the ground below, inviting viewers to consider the huge sacrifices made by British and Colonial soldiers during the First World War. Hull becomes the latest city become home to the sculptural installation by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper as audiences are asked to consider, discuss and reflect upon the legacy of the First World War and indeed, subsequent wars.
Earlier this week saw International Women’s Day being celebrated and embraced across the country, around the world and of course, in Hull. The day, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women everywhere also serves as a call to action for people everywhere to work together to accelerate equality and gender parity.
This weekend sees a range of activities and shows taking place across Hull as part of the WOW (Women of the World) festival. Since it’s founding back in 2010 at Southbank Centre, London, the movement has seen festivals hosted across five continents.
This year sees our own City of Culture join the rapidly expanding global movement which is based on the idea that an equal world is a better world for all of us. WOW is a celebration not only of women and girls but of equality in all its forms.
Young people in Hull aged 11-14 have been challenged to take part in a prestigious painting competition as part of a public art commission to be unveiled at Hull Central Library on 25 March. The competition is looking for anyone who fits into the age-bracket to get involved, no matter what their perceived artistic ability may be. This is about being creative, expressing ideas and taking part.
Another week, another plethora of cultural and creative goodies to be found across the city. Seeing the iconic Dead Bod on public display in the newly opened Humber Street Gallery is wonderful. It looks great in its new home where people are now able to fully appreciate the piece that has grown to represent Hull’s past, and future so well. Not bad for a piece of graffiti scrawled on some old corrugated steel.
As an artist, an as an avid fan of art in more forms that I care to count, these past few weeks in Hull have been a little special. The newly refurbished Ferens Art Gallery is looking great and it’s exciting to see so many visitors taking the time to view the exhibitions, old and new. As a regular visitor to the gallery it made a refreshing change to walk around there last week, in the middle of a week-day morning and see the place busy. If you’ve not yet made it down, it’s one place in Hull that should be seen by everyone at some point.