The first events for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 have just been unveiled and it’s impressive stuff.
As well as playing host to the Turner Prize, the opening months of the year-long programme will see Opera North transform the Humber Bridge into a piece of music, a homecoming show by David Bowie’s The Spiders From Mars, a theatrical world premiere, a brand new pop up gallery and a nod to some of Hull’s favourite sons and daughters.
Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull 2017, said: “Hull has always had a unique cultural voice in and in 2017 it will roar.
“The spirit, the stories and the talent of this city have inspired this national year of celebration.
“From its artists to its residents through to the city’s incredible heritage, Hull will share with the rest of the world what people have known all along - this city has contribute significantly to ideas that have changed and enriched the world.”
Organisers have divided the year-long event into four seasons, each one drawing on a particular theme.
The first, which runs from January to March, is entitled Made in Hull and draws on 70 years of the city’s history from the Second World War.
Curated by Hull-born documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister, it will see archive film footage projected onto some major buildings to create a striking trail through the city’s streets.
“A lot of art is either patronising or so high brow it goes over people’s heads,” said McAllister, who is working with an expert team, including the international lighting designer Durham Marenghi, fresh from the Rio Olympics and theatre director Rupert Creed, who both also hail from Hull.
“This, I hope, will be neither. It’s about telling the story of Hull and it’s also a celebration of the people who have made the city what it is.”
It’s only the second time the UK City of Culture event has been staged and like the inaugural city Derry, the team at Hull has decided not to invest in new buildings which may end up future white elephpants.
Instead, a new pop-up venue - the Humber Street Gallery - will host a series of contemporary art exhibitions and the existing Ferens Art Gallery will also reopen in January following a £4.5m facelift.
Alongside The Turner Prize, the gallery will also host the first showing of Spencer Tunick’s photographic collection Sea of Hull, which saw more than 3,500 pose in the city’s streets wearing nothing but blue paint.
On stage there will be a major new commission by Hull-born playwright Richard Bean, whose One Man, Two Guvnors, was a major hit for James Corden.
The Hypocrite, which will have its world premiere in Hull in February, is inspired by the life of Sir John Hotham who in 1642 played a key role in the start of the English Civil War.
Bowie fans will no doubt be queuing up for tickets to see the first ever live rendition of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars in March and the following month the Opera North orchestra and chorus will join forces with composer Arve Henrikson and sound recordist Jez Riley French to turn the iconic Humber Bridge into an epic soundscape which changes each time the bridge is crossed.
“Today is mainly about the first season, Made in Hull, but there is more to come,” added Green, who was behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. “Hull 2017 draws on this city’s distinctiveness and the ambition and dynamism of the North, whilst offering an opportunity to reflect on the nation as a whole.
“Next year will show the power that art has to bring people together, to surprise and delight, to educate and provoke debate - to transform lives. Hull invites the world: everyone back to ours 2017.”