Blude: (adj) A hybrid term to describe one that is both blue and in their birthday suit. Like a naughty smurf.
But why on earth would anyone need to use such a word? Well, it would be the perfect description for over three thousand people who, this weekend, filled the streets of the city I grew up in: Hull.
Chosen as the UK City of Culture 2017, Hull has many events taking place, as part of the celebrations in the run-up to next year. For instance, last weekend saw the city centre filled with a carpet of feathers, as acrobats took to ropes in a surreal aerial pillow fight, called Place des Anges.
And a week later the feathers were replaced by naked smurfs…
After reading a post by / having a discussion with vinnieh about actors who happily go nude in films, I thought it was only fitting to continue the ‘bare all’ theme with a look at what was happening locally!
So what’s it all about? Has the Blue Man Group grown in numbers? Is this a demonstration of sadness over Brexit or is it just that cold ‘oop North that we generally all look hypothermic?!
Renowned New York artist and photographer, Spencer Tunick, was commissioned by the city’s art gallery, Ferens, to create an installation that depicted Hull’s history. Spencer is well known for his nude works and came up with the idea of the Sea of Hull. (Click the link to see more of his work).
Why the sea?
Alongside being the birthplace of William Wilberforce (who helped to abolish slavery), Amy Johnson (the first female to fly from Britain to Australia) and being one of the most heavily bombed cities outside of London in WW2 (they liked to unload any unused bombs on us before returning across the North Sea), Hull has a rich maritime history that included both shipbuilding and a large fishing industry.
Spencer reflected this in his artwork, using colours of the sea and having ‘floods’ of people lay in front of local landmarks, looking like waves. He was quoted as saying it was also a representation of climate change, with rising sea levels encroaching on human environments.
What I found interesting was that any adult could sign up to take part and sign up they did: a staggering 3,200 members of the public, from 20 countries, volunteered to strip down and slap on paint. A record number of participants for a nude art piece.
People of all shapes, sizes and ages (one 80 yr old came from the US and has taken part in 20 of these) arrived in the middle of the night to cover themselves in body paint then got up close and personal at dawn with complete strangers, to be a part of local history.
And based just on press photos (the artist’s images will be displayed next year) it looked pretty striking.
Did I go blude?
For several reasons.
Main reason, I wouldn’t feel comfortable being completely naked around that many strangers. Which is probably stupid, as in such a huge crowd nobody is going to be examining you! (Although I don’t know why they couldn’t paint their bra and pants.)
Second reason: You had to lay near the crotches of complete strangers…
Standing next to them is one thing, but being intimately close to their nether regions, albeit disguised in thick paint, is not something I’d willingly partake in. And especially not sober! I mean, what if they were smelly?!
But putting all that aside, it’s still not an activity I feel in my profession would be appropriate. There may have been 20 countries involved but the vast majority were local people. From a city I teach in. How awkward would parents’ evening be if you found yourself laying on Josh’s dad’s bum, or staring at the nipples of Katie’s mum, who sometimes helps out with reading in class?
I’m sure there will be plenty of readers who would say it’s not distasteful or sexual if it’s art, which I agree with for the most part, but it’s just not my thing.
Yet I can’t help having a touch of FOMO. Everyone has been raving about it across the world (apart from Piers Morgan), from participants to press. And I can’t deny that it was a fantastic display of embracing diversity as humans whilst still showing we’re all the same when it comes down to it.
Whatever your opinion, well done to the city for doing something out of the ordinary.
‘It’s never dull in ‘ull‘ as they say!
But what about you – Do you think it was a good idea or typically bizarre modern art? Would you have taken part? And how far out of your comfort zone would you go to be a part of something big? I’d love to hear your comments as always! And if you want to learn more about the installation from the artist himself, click this link.
Image Credits: hulldailymail.com, guardian.co.uk and bbc.co.uk