‘So sick, so sick of being tired and oh so tired of being sick…’
2017 has not got off to the greatest start from a health point of view, in fact we didn’t even manage to see the New Year arrive! Stricken down with ‘flu over Christmas, it is still refusing to let go of the family and has even put one of us temporarily in hospital. Sigh.
But, despite being the living embodiment of a line from a Taking Back Sunday song, there are far too many exciting things going on in our neck of the woods at the moment, so I’m forcing myself out of bed!
You may remember last year when I wrote this post, Would you…Go ‘blude’? about a mass naked artwork being created for my home town in preparation for it becoming UK City of Culture 2017.
Well, 2017 is obviously here and the events have begun in tremendous fashion! Kicking off with a huge firework display over the River Humber on New Year’s Day (at 8.17pm …clever scheduling, even if it was a little late!), the city centre was then transformed for the next seven days for Made in Hull, with various light and sound installations projected onto prominent landmarks.
We were too ill to go to the fireworks, opting to watch a live stream on YouTube but I was determined to view the lights and managed it on the last night, along with what seemed like the entire population of Hull!
Squeezing through the crowds to find a decent viewpoint within Queen Victoria Square, I watched part of Hull’s history unfold from the birthplace of Amy Johnson, through the rise and fall of the shipbuilding and fishing industry, past the destruction caused during WWII and on to the regeneration and beyond, all to the sounds of famous musicians and local heroes.
The response from the crowds that have come from far and wide (a couple on the news were interviewed from Nova Scotia) has been overwhelmingly positive and with good cause. The effects were fabulous, with our City Hall genuinely looking like it was ablaze during the recreation of the Blitz. But it was more than the technical genius that warrants praise.
Hull is a proud city but in many respects a poor one. Yet this exhibition celebrated the lives and achievements of the working class, who are often the heart of many great cities, yet get over looked.
Such moving tributes to the many lost trawler men and those who had their lives taken during the heaviest bombing outside of London in the war, brought tears to young and old with some viewers having very clear, personal memories of the events. And to those not from Hull, it gave a fantastic insight into the wealth of history there is on offer from a city that has been written off by the media for years.
Over on our flagship submarium, The Deep, a more sedate show was projected across the mouth of the River Hull depicting the journeys of immigrants who have arrived in Hull over the last 150 years. Not, as two women behind us thought, a story of how the Deep was built on the dead bodies of those who died in the war (because it says ‘built on working hands’) Anyway…
Once a thriving port, people came from Scandinavia, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Russia and beyond, being the ancestors of some of our most famous children and helping to shape the city through some of its most successful years.
In a world where immigration and the refugee crisis seems to divide many, I think this type of history lesson would serve as a good reminder to every city about the positive effects a diverse population brings.
There were several other installations I unfortunately didn’t make it to but if this first week is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to what else the UK City of Culture has to offer over the coming year!
This morning we have woken up to live streaming of a giant 75m wind turbine blade being suspended over the main square. Slightly random but as we have the Siemens factory that builds these structures by hand (the largest handmade component of anything in the world), then it’s a nod to our manufacturing future. And random is always good!
So, spread the word and come to Hull… I might even buy you a coffee and one of our famous patty butties. 😉
Image Credits: Light show (all mine), fireworks (bbc.com), naked blue people (telegraph.co.uk ), wind turbine (bbc.co.uk)