Hull has often been overlooked, but there’s a lot more to the city than meets the eye. In this article, we delve into Hull's cultural past and chart its rise to City of Culture status.
Hull arts tour
The UK City of Culture offers a chance to celebrate a city’s unique qualities and open its cultural life to the rest of the world.
Hull in north-east England takes the title for 2017, and the city's distinctive cultural identity has shone through in a year-long programme of events, festivals and activities that have spilled out beyond the walls of its galleries and theatres to take over the entire city and bring together its vibrant community.
Join us to explore some of the highlights of Hull 2017 as we look back on a successful year that is sure to put the city firmly on the cultural map.
In September, the BBC’s Contains Strong Language festival took over venues and public spaces across Hull for the largest spoken word and poetry event the UK has ever seen. Poetry in the UK is enjoying a renaissance. Spoken word, performance poetry and live literature events have seen a nationwide resurgence, with artists such as Kate Tempest bringing the art form further into the mainstream in recent years.
Fifty years ago, a new piece of legislation was passed that set into motion the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a landmark moment, implemented at a time when the prosecution of gay men was on the increase. Although it didn’t actually decriminalise homosexuality – and indeed there was a spike in prosecutions in the years that followed – it was a turning point in the legal and societal status of homosexuality in the UK, and paved the way for legal equality.
Whether glued to their smartphones or dodging traffic, most people miss the dazzling spectacles waiting to be discovered above street level. In honour of Hull’s status as UK City of Culture 2017, a host of site-specific artworks has sprung up in the town’s public spaces. The series, called Look Up, is designed to do exactly what the title suggests – to encourage people to look up, offering different perspectives and ways to experience the city.
Martin Parr has a reputation for capturing the eccentricities of British life in images that are playful and accessible. From his early monochrome explorations of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, northern England, to The Last Resort, his breakthrough showcase of seaside destination New Brighton in the north-west, Parr has carved his niche as one of the most incisive commentators on society. When Hull’s Humber Street Gallery were planning their exhibition Hull, Portrait of a City, it is no surprise that Parr was at the top of their list.
Since its inauguration in 1984, the Turner Prize has become the UK’s best-known and most prestigious art prize.
Through a thought-provoking photography exhibition at Hull’s Humber Street Gallery, photographer Lee Price shines a light on the lives of Sierra Leone’s LGBT+ community. The show, titled The House Of Kings And Queens, was part of an ongoing partnership with Hull’s twin city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and took place earlier this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which brought into motion the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.
At 2pm on 1 October 2017, hundreds of telephone boxes across the city of Hull eerily began to ring at exactly the same time. The distinctive cream-coloured (rather than the usual red) telephone boxes held a surprise for anyone who picked up: they found themselves transported into a future vision of Hull, with the voice on the other end from the year 2097.