Two exhibitions celebrating Hull 2017’s volunteers to open at Humber Street Gallery

Humber Street Gallery will welcome two colourful exhibitions this month, each seeking to shine a light on the thousands of individuals that have given up their time to contribute to Hull’s year as UK City of Culture as volunteers. Grains Of Scandalous Blue and Big Picture both open at the contemporary art space in Hull’s Fruit Market from Sat 20 Jan 2018.

Julia Vogl, the artist behind Grains Of Scandalous Blue, explores the scale of the volunteer programme, drawing from her artist residency in Hull throughout the Tell The World season and using data collected by the volunteer programme throughout 2017 including the most popular names and even shoe sizes.

Julia said: “As artist in residence I had the great privilege to listen, learn, and be on active duty with volunteers on shift. Additionally, I engaged with hundreds of volunteers through a fun coloured sand survey of sorts that enabled them to creatively express their experience and collective impact on Hull 2017.

“I am encapsulating the pride, journey, and challenging, yet also joyful experiences of the volunteers into two colour fields that will transform the gallery into a fun, yet also analytical installation. I want people to aesthetically feel the incredible passion and monumental collective action of the thousands of volunteers of Hull 2017.”

Also on display at Humber Street Gallery is Big Picture, a photographic exhibition by Leo Francis in collaboration with Chris Fenton. The exhibition showcases what can be achieved when people come together, as well as the spirit of the volunteers.

Over the past few months unique images of the volunteers have been taken at some of the area’s most iconic spots, including the Humber Bridge and Burton Constable Hall. Some of the shots involve several hundred volunteers, whilst others capture individual portraits.

Leo said: “When people come together they can create something that is bigger than themselves, but it’s the character of these people that creates something unique. We wanted to celebrate what the volunteers have achieved for the city, but also give an insight into the unique individuals that have been under the anonymity of the blue coats.

“The project has been challenging but fun, we have shot from 150 metres up on the top of the Humber Bridge on a freezing November morning, shot in the rain on a kayak on Princes Quay, 30 metres up on a cherry picker at St Stephens at 5am, in the luxury of Burton Constable, the list goes on.”

Shaun Crummey, Head of Volunteering at Hull 2017, said: “The scale and uniqueness of the volunteer programme deserved to be celebrated with its own artistic project.

“Throughout the year we have become one big volunteer family and the team behind the scenes have been fortunate to learn all about the wonderful and diverse volunteers who make that family. I’m delighted that we are able to share their extraordinary personalities, as well as their incredible commitment, through the commission of two outstanding exhibitions.”

So far, 2,500 volunteers have given more than 300,000 hours of their time to Hull, and plans are already in place to continue this extraordinary programme into 2018, with more details to be announced shortly.

Grains Of Scandalous Blue and Big Picture open at Humber Street Gallery from 20 Jan to 25 Feb.