This Friday (February 3), the latest addition to Hull’s visual arts scene will open to the public for the first time. Humber Street Gallery is a new contemporary art space being opened as part of the Hull UK City of Culture programme. Located in Hull’s Fruit Market cultural quarter, the three storey gallery in a former fruit and vegetable warehouse will present a range of contemporary visual art, design, film, photography and craft throughout 2017, with a café and rooftop bar for visitors.
Opening with two exhibitions focused on the work of the radical arts collective COUM Transmissions, who came to prominence in Hull in the late 1960s, and internationally renowned British artist Sarah Lucas, Humber Street Gallery helps cement Hull’s status as a significant cultural destination, for visual arts in particular. It follows national acclaim for the Ferens Art Gallery, which recently reopened following its £5.2m refurbishment by Hull City Council, and the Brynmor Jones Library, which has also been refurbished by the University of Hull, enabling it to bring major exhibitions to the city.
In addition to the gallery art across its three floors, Humber Street Gallery will also house a café and a rooftop bar offering views across the city. The café is due to open alongside the gallery this Friday at 10am. It will be open daily.
A key feature in the café will be the installation of Dead Bod, the much-loved graffiti featuring a dead bird, which was painted on the side of a corrugated iron shed at Alexandra Dock in the 1960s by Captain Len ‘Pongo’ Rood and Chief Engineer Gordon Mason. Dead Bod became a local landmark, symbolising Hull’s fishing heritage, and a campaign was launched to save it after Hull 2017 Major Partner Associated British Ports (ABP) removed the sheds as part of the development of the site for Siemens, also a Major Partner.
Martin Green, CEO and Director Hull 2017 said: “We are really excited to be opening Humber Street Gallery, which will be an amazing cultural asset for the city. It helps consolidate the Fruit Market’s status as a cultural quarter and adds to Hull’s already strong visual arts offer, which has been led by the wonderful Ferens Art Gallery and Brynmor Jones Library, as well as the smaller galleries and collectives to be found around the city. Not only that, Humber Street Gallery, offers a café and rooftop bar, helping to make it even more of a destination for locals and visitors alike.
“We’re grateful to our partners on the project, Wykeland Beal and Hull City Council, who have enabled this great contemporary art space to open, and delighted that the Rood family, alongside the team at ABP have allowed us to install Dead Bod in the café. It’s a much-loved symbol for Hull, which will have pride of place in the café, so that the public can see it once more.”
Jenny Wilson Rood, Len’s daughter, said: “I am so happy to finally be able to share Dead Bod with the general public and I have so many people to thank for enabling my dad’s memory to live on as part of Hulls maritime history. It was George Norris’ photograph of Dead Bod that really started this rollercoaster ride along with Andrae Sutherland’s campaign to save the mural. Thank you to ABP for being supportive and for agreeing to preserve Dead Bod and thank you to all of the local media and members of the public who have really backed our campaign. In addition, I have to thank Tom Jessop and my sons Adam and Luke for being there with me every step of the way. It’s been an emotional journey and I hope that people will be able to enjoy Dead Bod for many years to come.”
Simon Brett, ABP Head of Projects for the Humber said: “We have taken the utmost care with Dead Bod as we know how much he means to the artists family and now to the public. We removed, renovated and preserved him until we could find a place for him and the gallery seems a very fitting prelude location for the next 12 months before he is put back by the river he has been acting as guardian to for the past 50 years.”
Humber Street Gallery, which opens at 10am on Friday, is a pop-up housed in a former fruit and vegetable warehouse. Its creation is the latest stage in the transformation of Hull’s Fruit Market. This is being driven forward by the Fruit Market LLP, a joint venture of Wykeland Limited, a Major Partner of Hull 2017, Beal Homes and Hull City Council. The Fruit Market LLP has invested £250,000 in the refurbishment of the building, which has been disused for at least two years. The works have included a new glazed frontage behind renovated and repainted timber doors, a new lift, new toilets and decked roof terrace, as well as connections to services.
Councillor Daren Hale, Deputy Leader of Hull City Council and Chair of the Fruit Market LLP, said: “The transformation of the Fruit Market is already great success story for the city and it’s wonderful to see another of its historic buildings being brought back into use. The Council’s initial investment in the area has been a catalyst for change and the investment now being made by our joint venture partners is really beginning to make a difference.”
Dominic Gibbons, Managing Director of Wykeland Group, said: “We’re delighted to have brought another of Humber Street’s distinctive properties back to life and to have worked with the City of Culture team to create a great new cultural and artistic asset for Hull. The Humber Street Gallery will add to the ever-growing vibrancy of the Fruit Market and is another piece of the regeneration jigsaw being put in place.”
The opening exhibition at Humber Street Gallery is a six-week long show focusing on COUM Transmissions, curated by Cosey Fanni Tutti and Cabinet, London. It includes material drawn from the archives of Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge (held by Tate Britain) alongside new filmed interviews with original COUM members. This, the first major retrospective of COUM Transmissions, traces a line from the group’s conception in 1969 to their termination at the Prostitution retrospective held at the ICA in October 1976, exploring a legacy that endures today.
Complementing the opening show is Power in Women, featuring three of British artist Sarah Lucas’ ten Muses, which were originally shown as part of the acclaimed commission I Scream Daddio by the British Council for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015. The Sarah Lucas exhibit, on loan from Sadie Coles HQ, has been made possible with Art Fund support.
Other visual arts attractions currently taking place in Hull include: Ferens Art Gallery, with works from the its permanent collection, the restored Lorenzetti masterpiece Christ between Saints Paul and Peter and Francis Bacon: Nervous System; Lines of Thought, Drawing from Michelangelo to Now at Brynmor Jones Library; Salon des Refusés – a joint show from KAG Studio and Associate Members at Kingston Art Gallery in Humber Street; Blade by artist Nayan Kulkarni, the first work to be installed in the public realm as part of the Hull 2017 Look Up public art programme. This weekend also sees the opening of an exhibition by artist Tanya Raabe-Webber at Artlink in Princes Avenue, as part of a year-long series of exhibitions showcasing the work of disabled artists.