Humber Street Gallery: From the shocking to the sublime

From the gloriously subversive “wreckers of civilization” and guerrilla gallery takeovers, to a one-time enfant terrible of the Young British Artists movement, world-leading photographers, film artists and more, Hull’s newest gallery is here to encourage alternative views of art.

It’s free, open every day throughout 2017 and it offers a uniquely Hull window on the best in contemporary visual arts.

“Humber Street Gallery is the new home of the sort of art that Hull inspires,” says David Sinclair, curator of Humber Street Gallery. “Art that is innovative, politicised, ground-breaking and daring. Everything is rooted in the art history of the city, especially drawn from the ground-breaking, often challenging, lineage of COUM Transmissions and Hull Time Based Arts.”

COUM Transmissions

The three-storey gallery opens with a world-exclusive look at the personal archives of the group labelled “wreckers of civilisation”, COUM Transmissions’ Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge.

As influential as they were sexually explicit and subversive, Cosey, Genesis and their art-music-punk collective confronted the system and rattled conservative cages throughout the 1970s and beyond. Our Humber Street exhibition is curated by Cosey herself, and will be complemented by live shows organised by music website The Quietus. COUM, by the way, went on to form Throbbing Gristle, an anarchic group that found itself the inventor of industrial music.

Take an open mind, expect nudity, profanity, explicit content and more than a little anarchy.

Sarah Lucas

Three sculptures by world-renowned artist Sarah Lucas will be on show at the same time as the COUM Transmissions work. Sarah caused a sensation in the 1990s for her tongue-in-cheek depictions of nudes. It was these controversial works that secured her a place in the Young British Artists movement, along with the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Curator David says: “The Sarah Lucas sculptures have only been shown in this country once before. Sarah is another really strong female artist who depicts the female form in her work. By showing Sarah’s work at the same time as COUM, it starts a debate around what Cosey was doing in the 1970s, and Sarah’s more recent work. It’s a starting point for people to have that conversation, it’s about starting a debate rather than us telling people what they’re seeing.”

Hull Time Based Arts

One thing we’ve never been short of in Hull is creative rebellion. Hull Time Based Arts took this in a different direction in the 1990s with ground-breaking live art, weird and wonderful arty interventions, and an annual festival, ROOT (Running Out Of Time).

In March 2017, Humber Street Gallery will present Re-Rooted – a sporadic guerrilla-style takeover of the gallery that will celebrate that influential festival experiment and some of the riskiest contemporary art that 1990s Hull ever saw.

But it’s not all about looking back, says David: “Hull Time Based Arts are leaders in their field, and influential throughout Europe. It’s important to celebrate the innovations that started in Hull, but what runs throughout the programme is the creation of new work in the city. All the work you can see at Humber Street is inspired in some way by a relationship with the city. It’s about pushing things forward.”

Hull, city of art

The warehouse gallery is a pop-up space that’s slap-bang in the middle of the city’s Fruit Market – an area currently undergoing £80m of regeneration. It is already recognised as a booming cultural quarter, thanks to existing galleries such as Kingston Art Gallery, Studio 11 and Oresome Gallery, and venues such as Fruit.

Whatever your views on the art, these city-centre galleries – together with the Ferens Art Gallery, the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library gallery, Hull School of Art and Design, HIP gallery and RED – are set to show work of national and international significance in 2017.

Highlights to come later in the year at Humber Street Gallery include:

  • A newly commissioned exhibition with Film And Video Umbrella centred around Hull’s relationship with the sea, featuring a spectacular installation by Lucy Orta.
  • A partnership with the Crafts Council to deliver States of Play, an exhibition exploring play as a creative, social, cultural and political mode of practice. Featuring works by UK and International artists and makers, it invites us to rethink and reclaim the universal language of play.
  • A bespoke exhibition, Hull, Portrait Of A City delivered by international photographers’ co-operative Magnum Photos.

The doors to Humber Street will soon be open. Come and see some art you might love. Come and see some art you might hate. But come and see some art. Talk about it. Shout about it. Be part of Humber Street Gallery. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you …