Hey guys!! This week, me and my family visited an art exhibition at Humber Street Art Gallery, dedicated to the wonderful volunteers of Hull City of Culture. The volunteers have given up their time to be present at City of Culture events to welcome people and answer any questions they might have. To express gratitude towards these people, the ‘Grains of Scandalous Blue’ exhibition was assembled over the 3 floors of the Art Gallery by self acclaimed artist Julia Vogl. The first floor showcased unique pictures of the volunteers from different places around Hull such as Princes Quay and the Humber Bridge and different pictures with their prized possessions . The second floor held a cool piece of art work where all of the walls and floor were painted in different colours with writing explaining what the colour section represented about the volunteers . For example, one section represented the 71% of volunteers who identify as female and another symbolized the 5% of volunteers who are vegetarian. Finally the top floor presented lots of jars on top of white shelves, scattered around the gallery, containing different grains of sand that represented personally how each volunteer had found their city of Culture experience so far. The ‘Grains of Scandalous Blue’ exhibit is running until 25th February and I would definitely recommend paying it a visit especially to further understand what an important role the volunteers play in Hull City of Culture. So in today’s post, I’m going to describe the art installation in more detail and give you my honest opinion of it.
As you walked into the gallery, the first thing you caught sight of were a series of double – sided, blown up shots of the volunteers, suspended from the ceiling. The photos featured the volunteers in locations around Hull like Princes Quay where they were posed on kayaks and inflatables on the river surrounding the building and the top floor of the St Stephens car park where they were arranged in precise lines, holding two flags in each hand and stretching one arm in the air and one out to the side. Off on the opposite side, hundreds of pictures of volunteers with their prized possessions laid out around them, decorated the wall. In the middle of the photos was a white board with one of the individual photos projected onto it from a tablet device attached to a white pole so you could examine the photo more closely. An interactive picture college displaying photos of the volunteers against the same blue background which changed images every couple of seconds, was spread out over the back wall and on the remaining wall were two tvs, playing two different videos. One showed a birds eye and behind the scenes perspective from when some of the photos of the volunteers were taken at places like St Stephens and the Humber Bridge and the other one interviewed different volunteers about their experience of City of Culture and also revealed some more behind the scenes footage from the photos. A lot of volunteers who were interviewed expressed their gratitude about how many friends they’d made through the volunteer programme and how the whole experience had been amazing and life changing so far and they were extremely pleased that they’d offered to help in the first place.
The next part of the installation could be found in the second floor gallery. To really immerse yourself into the experience of viewing the art work, there was the option to don a volunteer jacket whilst you were in the gallery and I chose to do so. A rainbow of colours were painted across different sections of the room and a piece of black writing with each colour clarified what that section represented about the volunteers. It fascinated me to discover facts about the volunteers which I wouldn’t have known otherwise like 41% were born in Hull, 6% are fluent in French and 30% are on shift each week. My favourite part of the art work though was the custom made scandalous blue shade with text accompanying it which depicted that the volunteers are 100% volunteer which in a way is a very blatantly obvious fact to include but extremely effective and true.
Finally, we reached the top floor of the art gallery which was housing an exhibit titled ‘Grains’ (Jars of Time). Hundreds of indiviual jars were arranged across white shelves which ranged in width and height. No two jars had the same combination of sand in it as different colours of sand were poured into the jars to represent an individual experience of City of Culture for one of the volunteers. There were also a group A and group B of volunteers who both answered slightly different questions to ensure even more individuality between all the different jars of sand. For example, a jar might belong to a member of group A and have light blue, white and dark pink grains of sand meaning they feel Hull is a real cultural destination, volunteering has changed their life 50% to 100% and putting their uniform jacket on makes them feel pride and a symbol for those lost or in need of a chat. I was really impressed by the abstract concept of this art work because who would’ve thought to use ordinary jars and different coloured grains of sand to assist the general public in finding out about the volunteer’s city of Culture experience!!
Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibit. It really reminded me what an amazing job the volunteers have done during Hull’sfirst year as City of Culture and how each and every one of them is so inspiring in their own special way. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, they really become the unexpected heroes of Hull and as a city, we have a lot to thank them for.
Thank you for reading this post!! Have you been to any art galleries recently? Let me know in the comments!!
There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull