Entertainment & Arts

Hull 2017: Musical Humber Bridge among City of Culture plans

Clockwise from top left: Pietro Lorenzetti's Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter (detail), Basil Kircher, Ziggy Stardust and The Hypocrite Image copyright Hull City Council/Anna Bean/Lola Beltrain
Image caption Clockwise from top left: Pietro Lorenzetti's Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter, Basil Kircher, Ziggy Stardust and The Hypocrite

A musical Humber Bridge, a 14th-Century masterpiece, a circus in a cemetery and the Spiders From Mars will be part of Hull's year as UK City of Culture.

The £32m programme will take over streets and venues throughout 2017.

Hull will celebrate famous local figures including poet Philip Larkin and director Anthony Minghella.

And it will put the spotlight on unsung heroines like 1940s and '50s boxing champion "Battling" Barbara Buttrick and pioneering musician Ethel Leginska.

Hull 2017 director Martin Green said: "Women's stories come through. It has traditionally been a male-dominated city, quite patriarchal. But we have found at every turn new stories about women."

'Explosion of culture'

Hull City Council leader Councillor Stephen Brady said the "explosion of culture and regeneration in this city has not been seen since the 1950s".

At Thursday's announcement of the line-up for the first part of the year, he said winning the City of Culture title had already changed peoples' perceptions of Hull.

"Our vision was to use the city's heritage and culture to create jobs and to put Hull back on the map as one of the great cities of northern England," he said. "That vision is fast becoming a reality."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWhat has Hull ever done for us?

The year will begin with an outdoor extravaganza from 1-7 January using projections and performances to tell the story of Hull.

Made In Hull will be co-ordinated by Hull-born Sean McAllister, who made Bafta-nominated documentary A Syrian Love Story. He is working with playwright and director Rupert Creed and Durham Marenghi, the lighting designer for the Rio 2016 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.

Other highlights:


Image copyright PA
Image caption Some 3,000 volunteers stripped and painted themselves for Spencer Tunick's photo shoot
  • Pietro Lorenzetti's 14th-Century masterpiece Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter will go on show at the refurbished Ferens art gallery after four years of conservation by the National Gallery.
  • Photographs of thousands of naked painted people on the streets of Hull, taken by US photographer Spencer Tunick in July, will go on show at the Ferens.
  • As previously announced, the gallery will host the 2017 Turner Prize exhibition and ceremony.
  • The new Humber Street Gallery will dedicate an exhibition to pioneering art and music collective COUM Transmissions, who gained notoriety in the 1960s and 1970s for improvised and chaotic sets featuring nudity, bodily fluids, live maggots and self-mutilation.
  • Philip Larkin, perhaps Hull's most famous cultural export, will be the focus of an exhibition at the University of Hull's Brynmor Jones Library, where he worked as librarian for 30 years.

Theatre and performance

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A play titled Mighty Atom is inspired by the story of boxing champion Barbara Buttrick
  • The world premiere of The Hypocrite by Hull-born Richard Bean, best known for One Man, Two Guvnors, billed as a "riotous comedy" about Hull's role at the star of the English Civil War, will be staged at the Hull Truck theatre, starring Mark Addy.
  • Northern Broadsides theatre company will return with Richard III, 25 years after staging the play as their first production in a boat shed in the city.
  • The premiere of Mighty Atoms, a play inspired by "Battling" Barbara Buttrick, a boxing champion in the 1940s and '50s, by Amanda Whittington, will also take place at the Truck.
  • A cemetery will be the venue for Depart, an "ethereal" performance by Australian circus artists Circa.


Image copyright PA
Image caption The Humber Bridge is 7,283 ft (2,220m) long from shore-to-shore
  • Holy Holy, the band made up of Hull's own Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey, David Bowie producer Tony Visconti and Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory will perform The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars live for the first time.
  • A three-day festival will celebrate Hull's ambient music pioneer Basil Kirchin, and will feature Goldfrapp's Will Gregory, saxophonist Evan Parker and The Specials' Jerry Dammers.
  • Singer-songwriter John Grant will curate a festival of Nordic music, tapping into the city's links with northern Europe.
  • Opera North will turn the Humber Bridge into an "epic musical installation", with sounds that change depending on your route and the climate.


Image copyright PA
Image caption Anthony Minghella directed The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley and Cold Mountain
  • A retrospective of the late English Patient director Anthony Minghella, who went to university in Hull, will be staged.
  • Two film festivals will examine dystopian visions of a digital future and Hull's contribution to British film and TV.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ethel Leginska was the first woman to conduct her own opera in a major opera house
  • The BBC is staging a new four-day spoken word and poetry festival titled Contains Strong Language.
  • Festival LGBT 50 will mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
  • WOW (Women of the World) Hull will take place, with a focus on Hull-born pianist, composer and conductor pioneer Ethel Leginska.

Analysis by BBC arts editor Will Gompertz

Will the £4.5m refurbishment of the city's Ferens Art Gallery in preparation for hosting the Turner Prize in 2017 transform Hull from an underappreciated outpost on England's eastern seaboard into a must-visit destination for tourists of all types? Unlikely.

And what about all the partnerships the city is enthusiastically making with the likes of the Tate, BBC and Royal Shakespeare Company - will they help turn Hull into a vibrant hothouse of creativity in the long-term? I doubt it.

So, isn't it all a bit of waste of money?

I don't think so. I accept the arts festival on its own won't change much. But its very existence might. It has the potential to transform the city.

Read more from Will about Hull 2017

Martin Green said Hull was "one of many cities in the UK that don't get their time in the spotlight".

"So people don't think there are stories to be told and things to be celebrated," he said. "The project of the UK City of Culture, to shine a light on a different city every four years, brings that to the fore.

"There are a great many stories and people you may or may not know. So my hope by the end of the year is that no-one says 'Hull? Where?', that most people have been or are planning to come, and that we've proved there is a great quality of culture here and it's capable of staging something truly world class."

More events will be announced in due course. The UK City of Culture title is given to a different place every four years. Londonderry was the inaugural City of Culture in 2013.

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