Review: City Story Writ Large in Sound and Pictures

I was surprised at how many people braved the January chill, to see Made In Hull last night. I’d expected a natural decline, after the opening night, but nothing of it. The best way we (party of 3 adults sans children) found to navigate all the illumination sites, in one night and still find time to visit an old town pub, for a welcome warm and a pint, is as follows:

First, if you need a brochure to tell you where everything is, then head for the 2017 pod at Paragon Station. The 2017 volunteers there-in will be only too pleased to furnish you with one, whilst answering any questions you have about the events. Including when all the ‘guided tours’ of Made In Hull take place for those differently abled visitors, who may need a little extra support to take part.

Heading straight for Queen Victoria Square, we faced the City Hall and waited for the clock counting down to reach Zero. And then it begins, a tryptich of large-scale projections by Zsolt Balogh, called We Are Hull with soundtrack by Dan Jones. Light and sound, archive footage, looming newspaper headlines and photographic stills, all meshed together to tell the story of Hull and its people. What worked most effectively was the movement, as the brave trawler rose and fell in the swell of the North sea and the poignancy of the falling men, who would never return home. Also particularly dramatic the searchlights beams picked out in the smoke of the bombed and burning buildings, during the scenes of the Blitz.

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The great and the good were celebrated, from the past and present, along with a few faces who just work hard to make good things happen in the city. It was important to Made In Hull’s Creative Director Sean McAllister, to represent those ‘real names and faces’ at the same time as commemorating the pioneers and noted figures: all are part of our story. A cheer goes up from the crowd, as the words ‘We Are Hull’ are writ large across the iconic architecture of the Ferens, City Hall and the Maritime Museum. Heart- stirring and memorable for all the right reasons.

Moving on we headed for Zebedees Yard, to be found by going down Princes Dock Street to a large courtyard, with buildings on all four sides, creating an urban amphitheatre. This enclosed space allows sound to bounce and reverberate, and is the perfect site for Invisible Flock’s 105+ DB football-themed sound installation. This is probably the nearest many of us will get to experiencing the atmosphere of match day, and all though not being an avid supporter of Hull City, I really enjoyed the roaring sounds of the terraces.

Our party – none of whom were sports fans – tried to decipher some of the songs the fans were singing, and imagining the on-pitch action. Fine save… terrible tackle… referee! send him off… GOAL! And the volume rises to fever pitch (I know) once more and the sound reverberates right through your body. There was a young lad on his dad’s shoulders, looking slightly bewildered, but utterly entranced by it all, both were wearing the proud black and orange of the teams’ colours and both were wearing beaming smiles. For some, this may well be the first time they have experienced an audio installation, perhaps the current squad of players should check it out too, they might be inspired and lift themselves up from where they currently languish, at the bottom of the table…(tries hand at football punditry)

At the far side of Zebedee’s Yard (can somebody tell me who Zebedee was?) there is a covered walkway leading on to Whitefriargate where you will find various shop-window based attractions, the two women gassing in the curious caravan scene is brilliant, it is quirky, but quirky but quirky good. The presence of Pauline’s Gift shop curated by Helga Gift, is a touching tribute to a woman who was known and loved by many for all her many qualities. There’s a nod to another of Hull’s women in the form of a poem, on the door by Hull playwright Gill Adams (thankfully very much alive) There’s a few more pop-up style pieces, to be found located on Whitefriargate, so look out for them during the week.

Passing Silver Street (Hullywood Icons is now to be found front right of the C4Di building) we headed for the Swing Bridge, to the corner of what was once Hull Film HQ. A place where I spent many months and years, supporting organisers of Glimmer Short Film Fest. The irony is not lost on me as (in) Dignity of Labour by MAKEAMPLIFY  begins… A stark depiction of the joblost of the city, being projected on to the side of our old building… we were discussing artist-led projections, before the city saw fit to close us down in 2012.

The work is moving and direct, perhaps the most emotive of all the installations speaking, as it does, to the ‘disappeared’ of our communities. Incorporating dance and dance theatre: the narrative has a brief echo of the poem Spectacle. And pretty sure that was the unmistakable voice of Jody McKenna hidden in the soundtrack: one very talented singer/songwriter from these parts.

This was where we took our refreshment – try the Sailmakers, it’s usually a bit quieter than Lion and Key and Black Boy, but everywhere is going to be busy at the moment, which can only be a good thing for the local traders.

Heading out towards the A63 underpass, we stopped off for a little club culture, out of all the pieces this one felt the weakest. The manipulated footage from Jesse Kanda called Embers, depicting clubbers from the eighties/nineties was repetitive and uninspiring. Spotting the fashions was fun for a few seconds, but the soundtrack didn’t match up with the images and it all seemed a little disjointed. Perhaps that was the intention? A recreation of the hazy, heady atmosphere of a club, but the sweaty boys and girls gurning into the camera, didn’t really do it for us.

So to The Deep and as the clock ticked down on the side of the iconic structure, jutting out into the Humber, off Sammy’s Point, we find a good spot on the footbridge, to view Arrivals and Departures by ‘imitating the dog’ with original soundtrack by Terry Dunn (Ernest, ManMade Noise)  This the largest of the projections concerned Hull’s migration story, acknowledging the fact that we are a port city, that attracts people from all over the world, some who stayed  and made Hull their home adding their story, to our rich multicultural history. The projection mapping for this piece is technically brilliant, the effect of the departures board clicking over is really well realised, the same effect is put to good use during the transitions in the work itself. The texture and sound is filled with a sense of movement, it is designed to feel transportative and aspirational. My party of Latvian and Austrian extraction, questioned the repeated use of flags in the work, they felt that flags didn’t speak to migration, and that the hands across the world bit at the end was like imagining Brexit never happened.

For those who stayed on after the final scene, there was a little hidden treat in the form of the elusive Dead Bod. Did you see it?

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#HullywoodIcons Picture: Quentin Budworth

Fearing our noses hands and toes would drop off we headed for Hullywood Icons by Quentin Budworth now re-located outside C4Di. I have to declare an interest in this one, I’m in it photographed as Rachel from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Dorothy and Judge Dredd, Princess Leia and Don Lockwood, Jane Hudson, Mia Wallace there’s even a King Kong, all have been recreated by regular folk in Hull and photographed on location in and around the city.  And let me just say it was great fun to be a part of. As I stood by my likeness, I had a moment to be sure. There are many icons of the silver screen to be seen, with many instantly recognisable classic and popular films referenced in the screening. Go pick out your favourites and look out for the printed book to accompany the images later this year.

And finally all three of us got to be on the wall together, or rather holding up a wall for Vantage Point by Urban Projections.  A camera set up, in the middle of Humber Street invites visitors to become part of the story, part of Made In Hull and see their images projected on the side of a building. Wonderfully inclusive idea and instantly lets everybody and anybody be part of the story.

All in all it took us about three hours… with a good half-hour break in between. You needn’t try and see them all in one night (runs until Jan 7), but do see them they are a fine and at times thrilling curtain raiser for the year.

For more details, artist statements, plus times of aforementioned ‘guided tours’ see link: Made in Hull 

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1 Comment

Filed under 2017

One response to “Review: City Story Writ Large in Sound and Pictures

  1. david osgerby

    Excellent stuff, Michelle. Zebedee Scaping was the Master of Trinity House School for over fifty years.Keep up the good work! from Dave Oz

    Liked by 1 person

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