Column: Artists’ billboard showcase

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The concept of the billboard has been around for hundreds of years.

The first billboards known to exist were large 15th-century posters, pasted on to the sides of buildings.

As more roads and highways were built, there became a higher demand for the larger, more commercial billboards that we are used to today.

Art exists in billboard form today from ‘paste-up’ street art reminiscent of 15th century advertising to large-scale imagery that makes comment on current issues.

This provides a platform for artists to display their work in the public realm that resists traditional limitations of public sculpture.

Hull-based organisation RED Contemporary Arts are providing 12 artists with this opportunity throughout the whole of Hull’s time as UK City of Culture during 2017.

Celebrating 20 years of RED Contemporary Arts (formally RED Gallery), every four weeks, billboards across the city will be transformed into platforms for displaying contemporary art, as well as playing host to site-specific cultural events.

The first season of the year is Made In Hull, so the artwork featured will be that of Hull-based artists.

The second season, Routes and Roots, will showcase artists from Rotterdam, Reykjavík, Aarhus and Freetown.

Freedom, the theme for season three will be open to all to apply for a billboard spot.

The year will then close with works celebrating the importance of Hull with Tell the World.

This project is an excellent example of how the City of Culture celebrations can be enjoyed all over Hull, not just in the city centre.

The first billboard is located on Cottingham Road and features the work of local artist Yol.

We are not unfamiliar with billboard art in Sheffield.

Bloc Projects on Eyre Lane have been commissioning artists to make imagery for their billboard for years.

Most recently, artist Vincent James has produced print for the board along with animated video-based work.

The obvious difference is that the REDboard travels to different locations every month.

It is a very exciting time to visit Hull with the City of Culture team promising at least one arts event for every day of 2017.

So far these events have ranged from the revelation of Pietro Lorenzetti’s 14th century panel painting at the Ferens Art Gallery, to the installation of Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade, a 75-metre long rotor blade that now fills Queen Victoria Square.