It was one of Hull’s best known voices that said: “Nothing, like something, happens anywhere”.
That was Philip Larkin, and this year *something* is happening in Hull – it’s the UK Capital of Culture this year and has a mind-expanding programme of events, arts and cultural happenings going on that is really going to put the Humberside city on the map.
On New Year’s Day thousands of people gathered to watch fireworks and a stunning multimedia installation to open the year of culture in the City. This brought to life stories of the city and its people from the past 70-years.
Image c/o Getty
Sean McAllister, a documentary filmmaker from Hull, said the Made in Hull event – would show the world that Hull has a remarkable hidden culture.
He said: “We’re finally going to share our secret. If you’re from Hull, we always knew we had culture, it’s just the world didn’t know, so the secret’s out. Finally we’ve had to let them in. In a way we’ve kind of had these doors up to keep everybody out of our culture.
Sean added: “It’s just for us, we’ve had it as a subculture but, damn it, we’ve finally had to open the door to the international world and let them in. They can come and see what we’ve been enjoying.”
Image c/o Getty
From the devastating bombing during the second world war, to the disappearance of its fishing fleet in the 1970s due to the cod wars, to the decimation of its shipping industry, Hull has struggled during the last seven decades.
Officials hope Hull’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2017 will breathe new life into the city. It is the second city to be given this honour, following Derry-Londonderry four years ago. Hull was selected four years-ago from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea.
I grew up a few miles outside of Hull and will be covering 2017 in some detail. Here are a few highlights to watch out for over coming months:
Voices Across The Humber, April 1st
This sounds like a fantastic introduction to the region’s character, through its unique voices.
Ours is a place with distinct DNA, inimitable character and high spirits – a true energy estuary. Rich in history and talent, both banks of the Humber will come together to perform an exciting choral, orchestral and visually stimulating concert celebrating our region’s proud maritime heritage.
Led by Hull Choral Union, one of the area’s longest standing and best loved choirs, the show will unite choirs aged 7 to 90, renewing old partnerships, forging new relationships and connecting communities from across the river.
Flood, Feb 1st to October 1st
This experimental performance works with the city’s unique geography and brings to mind some of the recent heartbreaking disasters in and around the region.
image c/o Hull 2017
An epic adventure about the end of our world, set in the future, told in many parts.
Flood is the story of what happens to Hull when the waters come.
Slung Low makes adventures for audiences outside conventional theatre spaces, each with a powerful, moving story at its heart. Their political, mythical and explosive storytelling has wowed audiences nationally, transporting them to new worlds and making them see familiar places afresh.
Flood is the company’s most ambitious and experimental project to date, using live performance, special effects, digital manifestations and other platforms to tell a story across an entire year.
Back To Ours, Feb 22nd to Feb 25th
As part of the celebrations there’s creativity coming to every corner of the city.
There’s a buzz in the air as we bring award-winning shows to every corner of Hull, with big names sharing the stage with familiar and favourite local artists. We’re transforming venues in the heart of local communities; from schools to shopping centres, there’s a festival hotspot right on your doorstep.
We’ve got something for everyone as we shine a spotlight on comedy, music, circus, theatre, cabaret, dance and ﬁlm. There are stories that will bring a tear to the eye, belly-laugh jokes, magical moments and even a bit of puppet nudity. So what are you waiting for?
Bring a friend. Bring your parents. Bring your kids.
Heck, bring everyone Back To Ours.
COUM Transmissions, Feb 3rd to March 22nd
A subversive exploration of the Hull-formed artists who challenged societal conventions.
Explore the life of COUM Transmissions in the first exhibition of materials drawn from the personal archives of Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge. Live events organised by The Quietus will trace the conception and legacy of COUM, combining music, talks and discussions among original COUM members.
Founded in Hull during the late 1960s by artists Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, COUM Transmissions was a collective whose work confronted, subverted and challenged societal conventions.
Labelled ‘the wreckers of civilisation’ by a Conservative MP following COUM’s Prostitution show at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, the group’s end in 1976 heralded the formation of the musical collective Throbbing Gristle.
Mind On The Run – The Basil Kirchin Story, Feb 17th to 19th
Another experimental ambient happening – inside the mind of a post-war sonic genius.
Image c/o Anna Bean
What connects the first British rock’n’roll discs of the 1950s, Vincent Price and The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the Nagra tape recorder and the industrial sounds of the north? The answer is Basil Kirchin.
Basil Kirchin is the forgotten genius of post-war British music. His remarkable life stretched from the days when British dance music mutated into rock’n’roll, through a headlong succession of film scores and pop songwriting, before retreating to Hull, where he created sonic landscapes that still challenge convention while seeking out an increasingly reclusive existence until his death in 2005.
A pioneer of musique concrète described by Brian Eno as “a founding father of ambient”, Kirchin’s intriguing history represents a collision of popular and experimental musical cultures that predate and define much of the music we hear today.
A live music festival celebrating the legacy of Hessle Road’s creative genius.
John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux: Sounds From Smoky Bay, TBC
A four-day music festival celebrating the best in Nordic creativity and influence taking over Hull city centre.
Hull goes international as it celebrates the city’s Nordic links in this experimental music festival.
Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter John Grant will curate a brand new, experimental music festival celebrating Hull’s Nordic and international links, while exploring the best in sonic creativity as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
A host of Nordic and international artists are coming to the city over May Day bank holiday weekend, including Icelandic electronic dance collective GusGus, Norwegian multi-instrumentalist, DJ and producer Lindstrøm and Wrangler, a project that brings together Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire fame, Phil Winter from Tunng and John Foxx collaborator Benge.
Fila Brazillia’s Steve Cobby and acclaimed writer Russ Litten have teamed up for a unique musical journey. In 1968 three trawlers from Hull sank off the coast of Iceland within two months of each other. 58 Hull men died. There was one survivor. Combining Litten’s prose poetry with Cobby’s soundscapes they will perform four commissioned pieces to reflect the experiences of trawlermen. Making a ghost ship out of words and music and bringing their fore-fathers back home.
North Atlantic Flux: Sounds From Smoky Bay will feature a variety of electronica, contemporary classical, avant-garde and experimental music, as well as one-off collaborations. Venues around the city hosting the festival include Hull City Hall and Gate Nº5, with other venues to be confirmed. More details about performers and shows and what to expect at this major music event will be announced in due course.
More than £30m is being spent on the year’s events and £25m has been invested in revamping the city centre and refurbishing the (brilliant!) Ferens Art Gallery and the city’s main theatre.
Other happenings planned for 2017 include a visit by the Turner prize and a much-anticipated one-off gig from David Bowie’s old backing band, the Spiders from Mars.
And it’s not just culture. The city recently secured a £310m commitment by the German-owned firm Siemens to build new offshore wind turbines in the city, creating up to 1,000 jobs. More information and ticket details are on the Hull 2017 website here.