Launched to much fanfare and acclaim on Thursday 2 April, The Changing Face of Hull attracted a huge crowd to The Space inside Hull Library. Officially opened by way of a very warm, inclusive speech by the Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr. Anita Harrison. The exhibition continues until 30th April.
The Changing Face of Hull is a photographic exhibition, that underlines the diversity and multiculturalism that we celebrate in Hull and the sense of community we derive from our differences. Testament to this, as I gauged the responses from the crowd, the images that were held up as the most captivating, were the ones not from within our circles, but that of the immigrant communities.
The vibrancy of the girl from the Kurdish School, the arresting black and white shot of the elderly gentlemen whose creased eyes still so full of vitality, seemed to follow you around the room
I’ve been to many an opening and I can’t remember seeing that many people; the turnout was remarkable and a really good thing for the library. The library is not just a repository for books, but a hub for community and shared experience.
The Space is a fine gallery space with clean white walls that allow the pictures to really stand out. The hanging from vertical wires, without frames, works really well in the space, reduces costs significantly and allows for different size images and imaginative curation.
I asked lead artist Quentin Budworth how the selection process was achieved, what made a particular person a ‘changing face of Hull‘. He explained that the process had been very organic, during the 3/4 months of work he and second photographer Rebecca Robyns, hadn’t set out to fit a framework, meet certain criteria: it wasn’t a box-ticking exercise. Quentin suggested that some of the subjects came forward themselves and asked to be included, others looking at the landscape of the city, were obvious choices to approach because they were particularly active, in their respective fields.
The result is a collection of portrait photographs that do reflect the ideas of self city and a shared identity. I’m reminded of the City Belongs to Everyone film, that not just helped us win the 2017 Bid, but served to connect the city in a really unique way.
Quentin Budworth says:
‘If we can accept change as a constant and diversity as a pre-requisite for a vibrant joyful and dynamic community in Hull we are truly on the path to creating a City of Culture not just for 2017 but for decades to come.’
There are people from the creative industries featured, that is to be expected, Martin Green CEO of Hull2017 alongside Liz Dees sculptor/performer and community artist, alongside alternative musician Graham Graham Beck.
Stewart Baxter highly respected for his work with young people at The Warren appears, with some of his fellow staff and centre users. From the world of media Burnsy is included, a local radio presenter whose morning show, is becoming a fixture in all our lives. Names from the theatrical world, academics alongside graffiti artists, public sector workers alongside performers, all creeds and colours, young and older in one space, supporting each other, making the place come alive.
My favourite images are the ones that move away from the classic head and shoulders shot and begin to tell the story, or suggest the character behind the faces; the frog taking tea in a sunny Avenues living room; the clutter and kutundu inside an artist’s studio; the guitarist sat in his living room with home comforts all around, just a few that begin to suggest the world behind the subject.
The Changing Face of Hull is not just a photographic exhibition, it has a multimedia aspect with a soundtrack of voices, as each subject shares a little something about themselves. Also the moving image, a video artwork with a wonderful transition, that morphs each face to form another. I really liked that and spent a good few minutes in front of the screen watching the faces flex and change.
The show continues in the upstairs exhibition room (The Space) at Hull Central Library, Albion Street, Hull until 30th April. So don’t miss out. It is well worth a visit.
For more information and to see more images see thechangingface.org