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 Central Library has just welcomed a new exhibition through its doors, and it’s something just a little bit special. The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits is a collection of ten portraits by Quentin Blake of Roald Dahl's most iconic characters. First on show at the British Library in London in 2016, the works can now be seen in our very own City of Culture until 13 September.
As an author and children’s illustrator, who has been influenced in no small way by Quentin Blake’s work it was a huge honour to be asked by the Library service to host a series of illustration workshops across the city, in conjunction with the exhibition.
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.
As I’m writing this we’re half way into another week, brimming with events and cultural happenings across the city. To be in a position where there are quite simply too many things going on, to cover even a small fraction of them, is pretty amazing. As well as art exhibitions and instillations, music events and an eclectic assortment of live theatre, interactive shows and new venues popping up we’ve also seen the unveiling of the stunning mirror pools near Hull Minster.
Something of a revolution is taking place in Hull, and as an artist it is one of the most exciting and encouraging things I’ve seen happen in the city for a long time. Public art, which at one time appeared sporadically and usually temporarily around the city, has become commonplace. At the moment new murals and large pieces of art are appearing almost every week and these pieces are not confined to abandoned buildings and underpasses. They are big, they are bright, they are very public, and they are incredible to see.
Hull 52 is a collaborative art project that brings together artists, illustrators and designers from Hull, to create a unique set of playing cards, each one featuring original work from some of the city’s best creative talents.
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.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to work with dozens of young people from across the city on a range of different projects. It’s been amazing to see the passion, creativity and drive of young people of all ages across the city. They are a clear indication that the future of the city, it’s art, it’s creative businesses and it’s music are in safe hands.