...And we were there on a fact-finding mission!
Almost 40 residents from East Durham took part in a fact-finding visit to Hull which is the UK City of Culture for 2018. The delegation was part of our East Durham Creates 'Go and See' Programme and included people from all walks of life in our community.
The purpose of the trip was to explore the impact being the City of Culture has had on Hull, and to experience the cultural regeneration the city has undergone first hand. The group were strategic in their aims and headed to Hull looking to bring back ideas that could potentially work in East Durham.
The huge group of East Durham locals, students and community centre groups piled on to the Coach at Community House and headed off to our first destination in Hull - Humber Street Gallery. A former fruit and vegetable warehouse in the Fruit Market cultural quarter, Humber Street Gallery opened as part of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 programme. The group got the chance to explore 2 exhibitions that were on display –‘Grains Of Scandalous Blue’ presenting the work of the volunteer programme and artist-in-residence Julia Vogl and ‘Big Picture’ by Leo Francis in association with Chris Fenton. Both investigated the experience of volunteering for Hull City of Culture. Big Picture shined a light on the unique personalities of individual volunteers whilst Grains of Scandalous Blue featured coloured sand housed in hundreds of glass jars, each representing the views and opinions of an individual volunteer, and a colour field that will took over the entire gallery walls and floor in symbolisation of the emotions and statistics associated with the volunteer programme. The group were struck by the enthusiasm of volunteers at the exhibition, how keen they were to share their experiences and how proud they were of being part of creating the artwork. One participant observed “there seemed to be real pride in the city and people were happy to express that pride”.
After refuelling with lunch and coffee at the Goodwin Centre the group split to visit the next two venues on the itinerary. Half the group headed to Artlink, a community arts organisation exhibiting the exhibition ‘Unexpected Engagement’ by the artist Jason Wilsher-Mills. The group were greeted by bright colours and playful characters such as the ‘East Hull Elvis’ inspired by stories gathered from local people by the artist. The characters also explored themes of disability and benefits as Wilsher-Mills is a disabled artist. The group loved engaging with interactive elements of this exhibition, which included virtual reality art works accessed through iPads.
The other half of the group went to Ground gallery, a small artist led space in a disused shop. The group had a fantastic chat with Matthias and Pelle, artists who ran and displayed their work in the space. The artists were honest and insightful about how they set up their gallery and problems they had encountered along the way. This group came away buzzing with ideas about how a similar ‘DIY’ type space could be set up in East Durham. Comments included: “Definitely interested in the set up at Ground for artists. I think this could be replicated”, “We have empty property which could be used as artistic venues if funding could be found”.
The group reconvened for the final stop of day, the circus show ‘Hotel Paradiso’ as part of the week long ‘Back to Ours’ festival. The show was a site specific performance in the school Arch Bishop Sentamau Academy. The group was wowed by the impressive circus feats and aerial acrobatics on display. One group member said: “I really loved the performance in the afternoon because it was funny and different”.
After the performance the group jumped back on the bus to head home to East Durham, brimming with ideas about how and what they had seen in Hull could translate to our area.
East Durham Trust
T: 0191 5693511