Made in Hull artists: Sodium

Exploring the full Hull caravan experience, from build to seaside holiday breaks, We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday is an immersive audio-visual experience dreamed up by Leeds-based film and photography agency, Sodium.

Situated in Whitefriargate as part of Made In Hull, the installation tells three tales – reflections of life as a caravan manufacturer, memories of years spent holidaying in caravans and live portrayals of today’s typical caravanners.

If you’ve enjoyed a caravan holiday or two in your time, you’ll definitely want to see this!

We spoke to Rob Booker and Phil Barber of Sodium to find out more …

Tell us a bit about Sodium’s previous work.

Sodium specialises in film and photography, with a strong focus on documentaries. In the past, we’ve worked on documentaries for Manchester International Festival and have produced the opening film for the Tour de France 2014 opening ceremony in Leeds.

We’ve been working with Hull 2017 for the past year and have produced some films you may have seen before, such as the Place des Anges film and Art Will Bring Us Together, shown during last September’s programme launch. More recently, we worked on It’s Showtime, a short film about the Hull 2017 volunteers.

Since we generally produce documentary films about the arts, it’s been interesting to get involved in creating art in the first place! We’ve always injected creativity into our pieces, so I suppose most things we do could be described as art at some level, but this is really a first for us.

What made you want to get involved with Made In Hull?

As we have been involved in the build-up of Hull 2017, we have been anticipating the opening event with mounting excitement. When we were offered the opportunity to take part on a bigger scale, we were thrilled, as we love the idea behind Made In Hull. Let’s show the people of the world what is so great about Hull and show the people of Hull why they should be proud of their city.

Can you describe your installation in one sentence?

Our piece shows the history of the caravan industry in Hull and what it has meant to local people.

How did the concept develop from your initial idea?

While the caravan industry was and is very important to Hull, it’s a little less known than, say, the fishing industry. We wanted to highlight and show both sides of caravanning in Hull – the manufacturing of them and the holidaymakers who use them. We worked very closely with Swift Caravans, who generously allowed us access to their factory to film some of their long-standing employees and even built us the half caravan that you see in the installation. Our work was further informed by caravan owners from Hull who wanted to discuss their experiences over the years with their caravans.

Everyone we spoke to was full of warm and wonderful caravan stories.

Does your team have any personal memories of caravanning on the east coast?

One of our producers spent every summer as a child on the east coast in Bridlington, Filey, Hornsea or Scarborough in family caravans. She was amazed at the standard of caravans now, compared with when she was a child, as she remembers gas lanterns and coal fires! She’s the little girl in a few of the still photos in our installation.

What can people expect to feel when experiencing your installation?

We’ve tried to create a really affectionate piece, so we want people to experience a feeling of warmth when they see it. In our interviews with Swift employees, we hope to evoke a sense of nostalgia about working life in Hull in the past, whereas our interviews with caravanners portray the fun and freedom of caravanning, and how the industry helps to provide that.

We’ve got actresses sitting inside the caravan, as if they were on holiday, which we think people really love as it’s a bit unusual.

Finally, why was it important to explore caravanning in the past and present?

Caravanning has played such a big part in Hull’s history since the war, and yet is relatively unexplored. We wanted to show the history behind the industry, but felt it was important to show how caravanning has moved on since then, appealing to an entirely new and younger generation of holidaymakers.

Catch the Made In Hull installation We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday in Whitefriargate from 4pm to 9pm until and including Saturday 7 January.