Category Archives: Art blogs

The Kraken Awakens

Visitors to the city centre cannot have failed to notice the huge tentacles looming large over the Maritime Museum and the talk of a mythical and terrible beast known as the Kraken. During the first week of August monstrous creatures from the deep, have appeared down Whitefriargate, emerging from inside Princes Quay, the lightship on the marina, even seen inside Hepworth’s Arcade. Never one to shy away from a mystery I decided to take a closer look. 

#VisitHull #HullKraken Image by @HullMaritime

I left my home just after one sporting attire that suited the occasion, namely a new blue striped top of the Russian sailor variety, bought from Beasleys earlier in the week, and a bright orange kerchief tied about my neck. I strode purposefully into town for I had heard tell of some live performances happening in the Museum Quarter. I wasted no time in getting to the old town, stopping only to marvel at the purple tentacles breaking through the windows of the old Dock Office Building as I picked up some documents, and a comic book written and drawn by my old friend Gareth Sleightholme. [I’ll look forward to reading that later] 

Soon I found myself sat in the third row of a theatre set up under canvas, inside a large marquee and just in time, for the show was just about to start. It was a short yarn written especially for the maritime renaissance, suitable for young deckhands and old timers alike, performed by Theatre on the Edge @hullontheedge. A tale as old as the sea itself, a ship sets sail from Hull heading for the frozen north, a greenhorn on board, a mother waving her son off at the quayside, terrified she won’t ever see him again. On board there’s rumours of sightings of a creature known as the Kraken. I enjoyed the tale and its telling and joined in the hearty applause at the close. One very young audience member sat on a lap directly behind me, shouted out ‘seafarers’ and ‘kraken’  at opportune moments during the show, much to my delight. 

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The folk singers Spare Hands image by @HullMaritime #VisitHull

I turned around to spy some sea dogs setting up instruments in the sunshine. I immediately recognised Mick McGarry a singer of some renown in these parts, his comrades made up the folk singing group known as Spare Hands. I sat down to listen to ‘Luckiest Sailor’, originally written by Linda Kelly, a song about the shipmate who should have been on board the Kingston Peridot when it was lost, with all hands due to ice build-up in 1968. 

There’s another number remembering the terrible loss of the three vessels Kingston Peridot, Ross Cleveland and St. Romanus, an episode that would come to be known as the Triple Trawler Tragedy, and would go on to shape much of Hull’s recent maritime heritage focus. Alongside some songs familiar to me sung and played this afternoon by Spare Hands, are ‘Bury me Down at Cape Kanin’ and ‘Goodbye Old Humber Keel’, both can be found on the recording ‘Dead Bod, Songs of the Humber Waterways’. 

Comic by Gareth Sleightholme @hesir

My day ended when I was stopped in my tracks by a giant sloth in the middle of the high street. This is Hull after all, and you never quite know what awaits you around the very next corner. I asked local historian and heritage tour guide Paul Schofield to grab a snap of me with the curiously endearing beast… which he kindly did. Perhaps next time I will uncover the secret behind the strange nest of eggs that have suddenly appeared near to the Beverley Gate… 

the sloth and me: image by Paul Schofield @hulltourguide

On the comic by illustrator and designer Gareth Sleightholme to you I say bravo sir and enquire as to whether the ship Echidna might once have been named the Nostromo? I very much enjoyed reading ‘The Strange Case of The Very Strange Case’ with the clued-up detecting duo Lily Blades and Joseph Meaux: and I learned a little something along the way, which, is after all the point of these weekends. 

The Kraken Awakens image @HullMaritime #HullKraken #VisitHull

The Kraken adventures continue throughout August see website for details

Images from @HullMaritime Twitter page follow for more news of the #HullKraken   

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My Hull Vigil

Just think of me like the BFG watching over your night time routine

catching all the bad dreams, so you don’t wake in the night with

a fright. Think of me like a faithful hound, watching and waiting by the 

door listening out for intruders… think of me up there in a wooden box

looking to the east and looking to the west, just hoping for a glorious

 golden moment, think of me…

Oh there you are: I had a feeling I might see you up here. 

The following text contains some sensitive content. For trigger warning scroll to the bottom before reading further.

Well here we are united again after fifteen long years. As soon as I saw the location I knew I had to go up there, wanted to go up there just as much as I did and for a similar reason, that I climbed Roseberry Topping that morning when we took the trip up north: while you were still here. 

Now is not a time for answers. Now is the time to appreciate and reflect upon the life/death/life cycle… and no I don’t really understand it, not in a comprehensive, academic kind of way. I see it as having to still go on after tragedy, to continue in whatever way you can, just one step in front of the other, each day and night, and remember to breathe once in a while. Is that what you were thinking about when you used to come out here on your lunch hour? Or were thoughts of the future just too much?

Look how the city has changed since you walked its streets in your velvety leopard-print leggings. I don’t know how this works. Do you watch me all the time, or just during moments of note? If I told you I was a dancer would you know that I performed in front of thousands in a glorious torch-song for the queer community? Would you also know that I studied just down there next door, for three years and graduated, just like you did from here. I wonder how much your passion for study, for education and knowledge, fed my own, eventually. Seeing your unbridled passion for everything was exhausting… but we shouldn’t focus on that.

Image courtesy Bluebeany

Look at that sunset not a bad view hey? Not a bad view over not a bad city; it has its problems, many of them, but it’s the people that make a place, and they are, on the whole, really good folk: and have embraced me as one of their own. I’m lucky to have so many people I call friends, and very lucky to be able to share special moments with those few whom I adore. 

Talking about embracing do you know we’ve had/having a pandemic? Craziest thing ever, no hugging your loved ones; no going within two metres of another person; weeks of isolation and lockdown; and far too many, many deaths, maybe you’ll already know about that side, where you are.

And we have to wear a mask everywhere indoors. How would you have coped with all of that? You packed as much as you could into every hour of every day and you loved your freedom. Relishing the ability to get on your bike and just disappear…. like you are doing now… I’m glad we had this moment. I’ll go back to watching over the city, after all it’s my civic duty and an honour. 

I arrived homeless living in the Sallie Allie, then a round of sofa surfing, bouncing around hostel beds, to many false starts, moonlit flits, promises made and broken again to myself and those around me, from central to the east, and now the west. This city and the people within it have watched over me, and shaped me, moulded me into a better person, into the active and valued member of its vibrant colourful society. By the way I’ve put our poem in my new book, I hope you don’t mind. 

Go on then off you go: get thee to a nunnery and ogle beautiful women. 

Trigger warnings: Contains references to suicide. death and loss

Useful information :

Image courtesy Bluebeany


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Middle Child return to the stage with a cabaret in Queen’s Gardens, as part of Creative Hull

Eighteen months after their last live performance, Middle Child will return to the stage this month with a brand-new cabaret, performed outdoors in Queen’s Gardens.

we used to be closer than this is a cabaret of songs about reconnecting, written by Natasha Brown, Angelo Irving, Tabby Lamb, Jay Mitra, RashDash, Leo Skilbeck, Kobby Taylor and Tom Wells, with original live music by James Frewer.

  • we used to be closer than this celebrates reconnecting after lockdown
  • The outdoor show runs from 16-18 July, as part of Creative Hull
  • Pay what you can tickets are on sale now through Absolutely Cultured

The show will celebrate people coming together again, in-person, after the series of lockdowns that have closed many performance spaces and moved much of theatre online.

It will be performed at Absolutely Cultured’s Creative Hull festival, from 16-18 July, with BSL-interpreted performances on Saturday 17 July.

Paul Smith, Middle Child artistic director, said: “we used to be closer than this brings together a diverse group of writers, from a variety of backgrounds, to stage a summer cabaret that asks how we can reconnect with each other.

“We have all gone through different experiences over the past year, and this is our way of sharing some of those stories, while celebrating what we love most about live performance – bringing people together, in the same space.

“Lockdown took this away from us, but now we’re back and we can’t wait to celebrate with a Hull audience in-person.”

Middle Child last took to the stage with The Canary and the Crow at London’s Arcola Theatre, in February 2020.

The show, written by Daniel Ward with music by Prez 96 and James Frewer, has since earned its writer and cast multiple awards, including the George Devine Award for most promising playwright.

The cast of we used to be closer than this start rehearsals today in Princes Quay and pay what you can tickets are available now, from the Absolutely Cultured website.

Capacity is limited with socially distanced tables seating four people each, so audiences are encouraged to attend with their household, family or with friends. 

See for more details about the show and to buy tickets, or visit for more information about the company.

we used to be closer than this is supported by Absolutely Cultured, Arts Council England and the Cultual Recovery Fund.

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Swell by Camilla Bliss launches at 87 Gallery

87 Gallery is pleased to present SWELL, an exhibition by artist, Camilla Bliss. Curator Becky Gee says, “Camilla is the first artist we have commissioned for 87 Gallery, and we’re really excited to bring her new body of work to Hull.”

SWELL is part of a long-term exhibition programme established over the past year. The launch coincides with the opening of 87 Gallery’s newly renovated Gallery, Studio, and Shop space at 87 Princes Avenue.

We invite you to attend the special launch event from 6-8 PM on Friday, 25 June. Following the launch, opening hours are Thursday to Saturday, 10 am – 4.30 pm. Young people aged 7-16 can also get involved with this exhibition in a hands-on way through 87 Gallery Explorers, where they can meet the curator, interact with the work, learn new processes with artists.

Further information: | @weareat87 | #87Swell


SWELL is a new body of work that uses water as a metaphor for the psyche, a trope found in ancient mythology and the theory of Carl Jung. Drawing on nautical communication methods, the work references navigation buoys and maritime signal flags. Within each sculpture rests a manifestation of the Siren, a creature known for their powers of seduction and destruction. Bliss uses these sources to comment on the ways in which communication can fail, presenting uncertainties. The work also references the fluid way in which we navigate life, constantly changing, evolving and dissolving, searching for meaning.

About Camilla Bliss

Camilla Bliss (b. 1989) is an artist who primarily works in sculpture. Although her ideas can be crystallised through digital manipulation, her work places importance on handmade processes and qualities. In this way she utilises a wide range of materials such as ceramics, metalwork, glass, wood, textiles and 3D printing.

Through her practice she draws inspiration from motifs found in historical craftsmanship, myth and folklore to communicate ideas about the modern world. Bliss does this through the use of a personal language of symbols which can be interpreted differently by each person who encoun- ters it. Playful decisions around colour, material and form allow Bliss to make specific cultural connections, whilst taking the viewer on a personal and potentially ambiguous journey.

About 87 Gallery

87 Gallery offers development opportunites for artists such as residencies, exchanges, public engagement, mentoring, networking, training, bursaries, sales platforms and exhibition space.

In conjunction with an exhibition programme featuring works by local, national, and international artists, 87 Gallery offers a parallel programme of activities such as Explorers, creative workshops, and artist talks to the public. We encourage everyone to interpret and explore contemporary arts.

“At 87 Gallery we champion a diverse group of artists in their journey of exploring, making, and exhibiting work, and we believe the process is equally important to the finished outcome. We work with artists to develop bespoke support packages tailored to their needs and goals, and we welcome enquiries from artists inclusive of all practices, art-forms, career stages, locations and demographics. We are passionate advocates of creative expression and visual culture, and we open our doors for everyone to experience and enjoy this.”

Further information: | @weareat87 | #87Swell

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Black Car Burning by Helen Mort

I broke the back of it in three sittings. For someone who has not been able to finish a novel for months that was good going. It helped that I knew the author. I’ve listened to her read from her collections Division Street and No Map Could Show Them, in warehouse venues, theatres and library reading rooms across the city. Latterly she has made regular appearances on literary radio shows and television documentaries: and won a slew of prizes for her writing.  

Helen Mort online:

How do we trust each other?

Alexa is a young police community support officer whose world feels unstable.

Caron is pushing Alexa away and pushing herself ever harder. A climber, she fixates on a brutal route known as Black Car Burning and throws herself into a cycle of repetition and risk. Leigh, who works at a local gear shop, watches Caron climb and feels complicit.

Each chapter, section, scene… is prefaced with an exquisitely crafted portrait of a single place from Helen’s beloved Sheffield: a street, an estate, a moorland, a rock’s face and character. The presence of these brief geographical snapshots and the way the author weave’s them into the narrative, feels fresh and exciting to me. Not a pithy quote from some learned scribe, but something heartfelt and real, something that sits apart and yet fits so readily with the storytelling. Helen does place so incredibly well. 

I liked how Helen’s women drank ale in old mans’ pubs; how they viewed the world with suspicion and wariness; the deep almost spiritual connection to the landscape they lived in; the strange way Mort doesn’t allow timeframes to get in the way: and the surprising sense of freedom ‘outside’ of their non-exclusive relationships. 

I wasn’t ready for how Helen’s use of language would make me feel, the words felt vital, alive precarious like they too were hanging from a jutting rock face, fingers jammed into handholds and tiptoes expertly balancing on a rock ridge. I enjoyed the climbing terminology, the poetry in the place names, and the deeper exploration into the mindset of a climber and what for me was a hitherto unknown, unchartered climbing subculture.   

Helen climbs, whether she has climbed Black Car Burning or not I don’t know. Throughout reading I resisted the temptation to scour the internet to see if the place names of the routes, the rocks were in fact real, or whether all had been a conjuring trick of the author. 

As I read Black Car Burning I was hearing news stories about Hillsborough in the present day, the ongoing fight for justice by the families of the 96. The bulletins ran in parallel to that of one of her characters ‘an ex-police officer who ‘compulsively revisits that day in 1989 that changed his life forever’. As he read about notebooks being altered after the fact, I was hearing in May 2021 that the charge of ‘perverting the course of justice; was being thrown out on a technicality: something about the notebooks being requested for administration purposes only, and not for a legal investigation: so even if they had been changed they could not now be used as evidence against the force. I wonder how the author felt about this slippery use of the letter of the law, as yet again the South Yorkshire police force ducked another arrow. 

For me Hillsborough – like it is for many – is pictures on a newsreel, dangling figures being hauled up football terraces, makeshift stretchers carrying people across the playing pitch, and football scarves and wreaths next to railings in remembrance of the dead. For Sheffield it seems like Hillsborough has become inextricably woven into the city’s identity. The impact still being felt in multiple different ways in the minds of every resident. Here in Hull we have the Triple Trawler Tragedy, the gruesome benchmark by which all other disasters are measured, and our own share of corruption and cover up in the death of Christopher Alder, and, as in Helen’s book, those people on both sides that long for the day the truth will out.

My lasting impression of the book – the first I’ve completed in months I remind you – is of a place not a million miles from where I write this, but in Helen’s hands it is an outside world transformed, familiar and inviting, unfamiliar and foreboding all at the same time. 

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Doorstep Dances Goes Live

Dance Artists Tamar and Jo from Hull launch Doorstep Dances.​ From August 19th until September 26 ​members of the public can enjoy a very special visit from the two professional dancers, to perform right on their doorstep.

After its release, earlier this month, the Doorstep Dance video featuring Tamar and Jo went viral on the BBC website with over 5000 views in the first week.

T&J Doorstep Dances Menu

From today members of the public can now choose a dance, from the ​5 specially designed dances ​including contemporary dance, Northern soul,disco​ ​dance and dance theatre, each under 5 minutes in length.

‘​It’s just like selecting a song from a pub jukebox, but with real life people, all from the comfort of your home.’

Book Your Doorstep Dance From Today

• You might choose a contemporary dance with a summery vibe with music by Laura Marling.

• If Northern Soul is more your thing, select Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You with Twisted Wheel inspired moves.

• Or how about picking about a sassy reworking of Donna Summer’s iconic disco floor filler I Feel Love?

Doorstep Dances by Tamar and Jo was designed to be an inclusive experience so operates on a ​Pay What You Can​ basis, with no obligation to make a contribution. Suggested donation is £5-£20 per visit.

All performances will comply with social distancing measures to ensure the safety of audiences.

We hope having the dances Pay What You Can will allow lots of people the chance to experience Doorstep Dances, everyone from individuals and families in households whatever their income, to social care settings that have been isolated by Covid-19.” Tamar and Jo

thumbnailYou don’t need a special occasion to book a dance; the aim is to bring live performance back into communities to audiences old and new. However, a Doorstep Dance could make a ​Unique and very Special Gift ​for a friend or loved one, who you haven’t seen for a while due to lockdown. Or maybe there’s someone you want to say a very special ​Thank You​ to.

Just imagine the response when they receive a Doorstep Dance from Tamar and Jo, dressed in bespoke outfits, ready to add a touch of joy to their day.

Whichever dance and track you choose from the groovy ​@Bluebeany​ designed menu, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience, as Tamar and Jo put on a very special show just for you.

Don’t Delay Booking opens from Aug 19 and closes 26 Sept 2020

Book Your Doorstep Dance From Today

It could not be simpler to book a Doorstep Dance. Just contact Tamar and Jo and ask for a Booking Form and menu of dances to choose from. Once your completed form is returned you will be contacted within 2 days to arrange your dance.

Email: t​

Doorstep Dances​ has been made possible by the kind donations of supporters via Crowdfunder. It is still live if you would like to make a donation:

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Live Dance at #PopUpPatio York Theatre Royal

Dance Artists Show The Way Forward in Time of Covid. Friday Aug 14th I travelled to York to check out some live dance performance. [Feels good to say that again] A specially curated, production by York Dance Space to launch York Theatre Royal’s #PopUpPatio event series. Continue reading

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Lockdown Art

Day Eighty-six: Bit of a stop gap and some new news, but first please take a moment to admire all the work I have made in lockdown at Bluebeany’s Art Club. And look I have a wonderful award. I think that award category could be stretched to cover most of my career as a creative.  Enjoy the slideshow:

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One of these art works is winging its way to Leeds, to take pride of place on the plinth at the Flask Gallery courtesy of artist/curator Alice Bradshaw. This is a very exciting development and one that I can only imagine happening by way of the unknowable nature of pandemic.

Right now you can see artist Tania Robertson’s ‘rock and roll’  by clicking on Flask Gallery on Facebook from 8 – 21 June.

This is the moment I realise that if this is the standalone post, where all the art is collected together, and that could be added to if we do more lockdown art prompts… I will have to do a whole new Day Eighty-six which wasn’t in the script. I will sort this but not now… now it is late and I have just found an errant bag of crisps and I am rejoicing in the flavour of pub snacks. If it wasn’t so late I’d open a bottle of beer and wallow in nostalgia. I have been wondering how it will be for the shielded when the vast majority go back to socially distanced drinking and shopping in unnecessary shops. Is this where the pandemic will really start to bite, where we have a race of insiders and outsiders, Morlocks and Eloi… perhaps it is on these lines where society divides yet further than it is already.   

Here’s my Unholy Foley for Spooky week.



Best laid plans…

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REMOTE By Annabel McCourt – New Exhibition links Hull and Scarborough

DONT FEAR THE REAPER… Artist Annabel McCourt’s REMOTE opens inside the gallery at Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull. This time the Lincolnshire-based artist known for work that challenges and interrogates contemporary issues, has her sights set on the instruments and psychology behind 21st Century warfare. Continue reading

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Late Summer at High Wolds Poetry Festival

In a sleepy East Riding parish late September I joined dozens of poets to descend on a sunny North Dalton, to take part in the inaugural High Wolds Poetry Festival.  I’d seen the article about it on the Yorkshire Post online and felt it was the perfect opportunity to get out of the city. Living in the city shifting through concrete and glass quickly becomes claustrophobic and the need for open spaces is all the more pressing. Continue reading

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