New exhibition marking 150 years of the Black and Whites captures the emotional heart of Hull FC. Located on Humber Street, ‘Going Down the Boulevard’ will be open to the public at KAG Kingston Art Group until the 29th March.
A hundred and fifty years ago Hull FC rugby club was started by a group of ex-public school boys from York. Going Down The Boulevard is a new collaborative exhibition between Hull FC and Ocular Art, celebrating the camaraderie and strong sense of community enjoyed by the club faithful.
It is the emotional connection at the heart of Hull FC, that is the focus of the portraiture prints created by artist/photographer Darren Rogers. He has looked beyond the face, behind the eyes and connected the viewer with an unspoken moment in the fans’ memories.
By inviting fans to listen, to a specially created soundscape of famous tries and evocative recordings of the club’s anthem Old Faithful – sung on the terraces at every match and synonymous with the beloved Boulevard – Darren has curated a unique set of images.
‘This collaborative process has allowed me to engage with people I wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to engage with and work with them in an inclusive way.’ Darren Rogers
Each has been captured in stark black and white (naturally) with large expanses of open space allowing the subject to draw the viewer in, to see the detail of the eyes, the skin, every line etched on their face. 400 images were taken in rapid fashion in order that every minute monochrome detail and nuance of emotion could be captured in intimate poster-size images. With some images a grid or Cubist application has been used, to depict the sense of movement some subjects expressed, as they listened to the soundscape.
In addition to the fans’ portraits there are individual works from Kingston Art Group members, each relating to the rugby club including paintings, caricatures, illustrations and a colourful aboriginal piece, that dominates the far end of the gallery.
Also making up part of the exhibition is a memory wall, where visitors are invited to share memories about Hull FC perhaps stirred up by things seen in the exhibition.
John Crosby a black and whites fan since 1978 said, ‘One of the reasons I constantly renew my pass to go see Hull, is because I meet people at the Hull ground I wouldn’t meet anywhere else. I think its very interesting that they use footage from a game that Hull lost.’ Mentioning the club’s recent run of bad luck he goes on to say, ‘ You don’t always do so well in life do you? So sport reflects life in that respect.‘
Faithful Thirteen Heritage Officer Ash Foster, is very proud of the work that he and the club are doing in the community, sharing the rich history of Hull FC. All of the work done during the anniversary year will become part of a recorded archive at the British Library, that can then be accessed by future generations. The exhibition Going Down the Boulevard is just one of three strands all working together, to promote and celebrate the rugby club’s heritage. Ash speaks passionately about the importance of connecting with people through the club’s various outreach programmes:
‘We do literacy and creative writing based around the likes of celebrated players Jack Harrison and Clive Sullivan. The pupils learn about him being the first black captain of any sport and how he united the city across the divide.’
Hull FC have also embarked on an Oral History project called Sporting Memories:
‘Generally history gets told by the academics, so the oral history project is about empowering the people to tell their stories about the Boulevard, first match memories and more and allow them to share that with others and shape the club’s history themselves.’
‘When you mention the word culture a lot of people can be put off, but this is culture, this our culture, rugby league is part of our culture, it is part of who we are, we tell each other stories about famous games and famous players, its ingrained in us.’ Ash Foster
To add a sense of occasion to the exhibition opening night, there were a number of current Hull FC players present as well as words from the newly crowned Hull FC poet Phil Lamb. A writer of many years, he entertained the crowds with two original works. Sundays at the Boulevard, with its rugby as religion metaphor ‘Sunday communion soup from a flask‘ describing fans as wearing ‘weekly sabbatical threads‘. The second poem New Season New Dawn spoke to the hope and anticipation felt each season by every fan, as they dream about future successes.
Phil Lamb fought off the competition in an X-Factor style competition, to become the club’s poet in residence. Throughout the anniversary year Phil will be celebrating and commemorating the club through his evocative verse.
‘A lot of my mates who I stood on thre’penny stands with, are over the moon because in their eyes one of their mates is poet of the year. It’s really good what the club has done with the exhibition, it’s took it to another level.’
Ash Foster is succesfully creating community engagement by taking Hull FC outside of the usual sports event. A fan of the rugby club since the age of seven, he is allying the club to art forms such as music, dance and multimedia. With creative and imaginative programming, he is driving Hull FC forward into different places, preparing the club for the next hundred and fifty years.
Find out more about the FC150 Campaign