The Awakening!

Hey guys! Recently, Freedom Festival presented Hull with the Awakening which brought 16 events to the streets of Hull. The event centred around commemorating the Spring Equinox as we move from Winter to Spring but it also celebrated Hull’s maritime history, heritage, folklore and mythology as well as our relationship to the environment. Since it featured many lights and illuminations, the event ran for two evenings on the 18 and 19 March between 6 and 10pm. We struggled to fit in all the events so I will only talk in this blog post about the ones that we did get to see. However, even though we didn’t see absolutely everything, I feel that we had a very enjoyable experience and I’m hoping this will become a yearly event in Hull. So here is my review of the Awakening!

Dan Archer: Borealis

As soon as I saw this event listed, I knew we had to experience it because me and my family really want to go and see the Aurora Borealia at some point. It definitely did not disappoint. Above the flower beds of Queen Gardens, a mist fizzled through the air and somehow this mist was lit up with brilliant green and blue lights. The effect it created was absolutely stunning, making it seem like the night’s sky had transformed into those colours too. There was something infinitely peaceful about it too just watching the colours swirl across the sky. It’s definitely a contender for being my favourite event from the Awakening.

Arcade: We Are Goddesses

What a powerful event this was in terms of feminism and equality. Arcade conferred with members from Hull Youth Parliament and Kingston Youth Centre to think about how they would define a goddess based on historical depictions and the people in their own lives today. Then, artist Alex Hunt brought them to life on the front of the Streetlife museum with poems to accompany the goddesses by writer Maureen Lennon and some of the members of the previously mentioned groups. The beautiful neon colours of the goddesses instantly drew your eye to them as you studied the beauty that was held within the painting of them. I noticed none of them had faces which I thought could be so it is more easy for women to imagine themselves as a goddess and amongst the lineup. It was a very thought provoking installation and I really enjoyed it.

Out There Arts: Fire in the Park

Fire in the Park had several installations that were scattered across Queen’s Gardens. There was a walkway across the path lit by fire in the middle. At the end of it, there was an arch lit by fire. Another walkway led the visitors to a selection of fire pits adorned with pretty patterns like doves and flowers. The far side of the garden had song quotes about fire etched into metal with fire ironically burning inside them. The pond that was also located down there had buckets of fire floating on top of the pond which was surreal to witness considering they are complete opposites of each other. Continuing on, there were two more installations. One was a windmill shape with fire spinning around on it and the other was designed as a musical instrument flame thrower. A series of brass instruments spit out fire in a repeated pattern that was mesmerising to watch. To exit the gardens, an identical path lit by fire in the middle was assembled. For me, the fire was an interesting element in this event especially in relation to the Spring Equinox. It could symbolise the cleansing and new beginnings that will come in Spring as the old is burnt away. Overall, it was a very intriguing experience that I really enjoyed.

Compagnie des Quidams: Totems

The beautiful, ghostly silhouettes of Totems were floating towards Queen’s Gardens when I first spotted them. They were drawing a lot of attention from the crowds and they reminded me slightly of some of the other massive figures that have paraded through the streets as part of the Freedom Festival. Their presence was very calming and I watched their slow, graceful movements with interest. I definitely think it was great to have a moving event like this that could capture the attention of lots of different people in lots of different areas of the city.

Heinrich and Palmer: Ship of the Gods

This piece was inspired by the Norse myth Skidbladnir, a magical shape shifting vessel large enough to carry the gods and their equipment and then be folded to fit inside a pocket. This concept combined with scanned images of Hull’s Arctic Corsair and Spurn Lightship created the magnificent Ship of the gods that was projected onto a screen in Museum Gardens. It was mighty to behold especially when paired with the atmospheric music that played too. It was amazing to see these iconic ships that are so deeply embedded in Hull’s history come to life in the heart of the old town.

Illumaphonium: Halo

Halo explored an interesting concept of light. In the darkness of Zebedee’s Yard, the circular light installations of Halo glowed brightly. They were highly interactive since touching a circle changed the shade of blue that it was glowing and a distinct sound chimed out at the same time. It was quite enthralling to see all these lights and hear the melodic chimes that rang through the air. I enjoyed participating in this as well as watching others as they took part in it too. The concept of light in this setting was so clever considering the Spring Equinox involves the nights slowly becoming lighter again so it is a key part of it. I would love to see more events like this in the future!

Sound Intervention: Projector Bikes

We were lucky enough to catch the Projector Bikes twice as they journeyed through Hull’s old town. The event was comprised of two people riding bikes that projected marine life onto nearby buildings whilst also blasting alluring pop music that instantly drew attention to them. Watching the marine life sway across the buildings was really interesting and the energy that the music brought to the concept really added an extra dimension to it. This was definitely another contender for my favourite event of the evening!

Katayoun Dowlatshahi: Scrimshaw Images

This event centred around Hull Maritime Museum’s Scrimshaw collection of detailed images that were scratched into whalebone and teeth by sailors thousands of years ago. These images were projected onto key buildings in and around Victoria Square such as Hull City Hall and Ferens Art Gallery. The ornate nature of these buildings complimented the intricacy of these images perfectly, creating stunning light projections that we enjoy studying.

Thank you for reading this post! There’ll be another one out soon but until then bye for now!

Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull

One comment

  1. Hi Amelia, I never got to see this light show basically because the night that I chose to go, the last night, it decided to pour down with rain, Yes I had all week but other stuff also had to be done, so I missed it all, well I got as far as Hull Royal Infirmary, a visit that is all, and when I came out it was raining too hard for my umbrella to cope. Starting at around 9:30pm was a bit of a downer as well, ok it had to be dark, but hey ho lets hope that there is something else on the horizon. It all went a bit flat after the City of Culture thing when I was hoping that it would be a springboard for better things. Yes the pandemic didn’t help but after 2017 nothing much seemed to happen. Take care, Covid hasn’t gone away.


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