Hey guys! This week, we visited Hull city centre for the exciting new event ‘Urban Legends: Northern Lights’ from the amazing Absolutely Cultured, the company behind last year’s City of Culture. It was a series of 6 different, unique light projections and atmospheric soundscapes, scattered around several locations in the city centre. Each of them had a distinctive concept and crowds of people flocked to see them on the 4 nights that they were projected in these various locations. They drew inspiration from the connections between Hull and countries across the North Sea in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. There were also elements of ancient mythology, fairy tales and oral history tied into the projections. I love light projections and watching ‘Urban Legends: Northern Lights’ actually reminded me of ‘Floe’ and ‘Made in Hull’, two of Hull’s awesome, past light shows.
SHIP OF THE GODS
Ship of the Gods was projected onto a screen in Holy Trinity Square outside Hull Minster. It was inspired by the Norse myth of Skidbladnir, a magical shape shifting vessel which was large enough to carry all the gods and their equipment yet could be folded up small enough to fit inside a pocket. Heinrich and Palmer who were behind this work, connected to the story because of Norway and Hull’s maritime history.
It imagined Skidbladnir in the structure of the Arctic Corsair, the Spurn Lightship and models housed within Hull Museums. There was the use of film, 3D laser scanning technology, sound and lighting effects to create an eerie, mysterious projection to entice the people of Hull. I found it really interesting as they zoomed in and out of the different ships to see just how detailed each one was. The music also assisted in creating a more immersive, spooky experience and drawing the audience in. After it had transitioned through the 3D interiors of all the different ships, it morphed into Hull Minster and toured through the inside of it which I thought was a wonderful way to end the projection with the incredible piece of architecture that was right near us.
Still Lives were unique from the other installations in that they displayed some well known characters in the windows of deserted shops down Whitefriargate in Hull and acquainted the public with their side of classic stories. In three different shops, the Snow Queen, the Emperor from the Emperor’s New Clothes and the Little Mermaid all revealed a twist in the famous stories there were involved in. From some of my past posts, you guys may know that I love the idea of retelling a story from a different character’s perspective so although this wasn’t a new concept to me, I still liked that they were exploring it in Still Lives. We didn’t manage to venture very close to the 3 installations because they were enchanting huge crowds of people but the set up of each shop window for the character was very captivating and appropriate for each of them. Still Lives will run through out the month of December so I might do a more in depth blog post where I describe just this part of the event!
Alda, meaning ‘wave’ in Old Norse, was projected onto the 3 ships mosaic in King Edward Square and it was inspired by stories that the Icelandic artist Dodda Maggý discovered during her time residing in Hull. It used archival material, samples and live recordings to contemplate the impact technology has on seafaring cities and the seductive, beguiling nature of the sea with its concealed terror. The soundtrack for Alda was composed by an award winning artist and performed by a new ensemble created with the University of Hull.
The projection was mostly a sea blue colour which swirled around and morphed into different shapes. The music was ever transforming too with some more dramatic, tense sections and other tranquil, peaceful parts. It greatly resembled the sea in its appearance as it swirled around and was ever-changing in its different shapes. I found it mesmerising to watch especially with the soundtrack to accompany it.
Avenue introduced iconic textile designs of the 20th century as they were projected onto the street that the public were strolling along. The patterns from Hull to Västra Götaland in Sweden and from the mid century to present day carry stories and references woven and printed into their designs. The soundscape augmented the stimulating themes of international exchange, migration and shared maritime culture that were embodied in the awesome tapestry that extended across the stretch of Parliament Street.
I found it so interesting to witness the variety of patterns in the projecting tapestry that would change every so often. All of them were vibrant in colour and complicated and intricate in their design. My favourite pattern would have to be the almost lurid red background with red roses and green leaves surrounding them and stark yellow corn. I thought it was a really cool and unique pattern in that it featured corn as it’s definitely not something that you’ll see every day!
Lost Paradise was projected onto a tipi tent (inspired by Scandinavian nomadic tents) in Queens Gardens and it told the story of where our shared Northern culture began, back when the North Sea was dry land. This was well before the time of the Vikings. It explained stories of paradise that was lost as the sea levels rose to form the coastline we are familiar with today. Lost Paradise featured voices from Hull alongside storytellers from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and England. There was the combination of spoken word, music and projected visuals in this light installation and even some ships of dreams designed by some of the public made an appearance.
This installation was unique in its storytelling aspect but also it’s promotion of the idea of a lost paradise. I love the link this installation has with Hull’s connections to countries across the North Sea and I think the Scandinavian nomadic inspired tent added a real element of individuality to this installation. There was a circle of objects on fire which directly linked to the story and the idea of the ice melting because of heat so I appreciated the visual. However, I would say that out of all the installations, while I did enjoy it, I found it the hardest to follow and understand.
OH THE NIGHT!
I’ve saved my favourite for last! Oh the night! was projected onto a building across from the Rose Bowl Fountain. It starred an old bear and imagined the ultimate children’s bedtime story with the characters of 3 children, a fox, an owl and a seahorse. Each of them had separate problems but after travelling on a journey with each other, all their problems were solved in the end. It explored the ritual of bedtime stories, particularly for young children and it featured an original soundtrack by Finnish composer, Lau Nau, and a live chorus of people from Hull.
I absolutely loved this light installation. It was magical to journey through a story taken straight from our childhood imagination and to experience the story along with the various different characters. My favourite part of the story was when one of the little boys broke stereotypes that he couldn’t play with the old bear. I think it teaches a valuable lesson about including people no matter who they are in this world with a modicum of goodness. I honestly can’t extol it enough or describe just how amazing it was!
So overall, I really enjoyed this event! I loved that it had links to the connections Hull has to countries across the North Sea and I thought it was great that each of the light installations were so unique from each other. To compare any of them would be like comparing apples and oranges!
Thank you for reading this post! Which installation do you think you’d have enjoyed the best? 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