Humber Street Gallery

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Things to do


Date of travel

December, 2017

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We visited the “Humber Street Gallery”: in Hull during a recent stay in the UK City of Culture 2017 to see the exhibition, Portrait of a City. Humber Street itself is a narrow, cobbled street in the city’s old town and next to the marina. Formerly the site of the former fruit market warehouses, it’s now transformed with trendy restaurants, galleries and boutique shops.

Because of its history the gallery is industrial and stark, with painted walls and concrete floors. We headed up to the third floor by lift. Inside a sign said ‘This lift can be slow, do not panic. Take the time to talk to each other or check social media. The art can wait, it’s not going anywhere.’

The third floor had a terrace and a bar in the summer months, but on a chilly December day the door was locked.

We walked down the industrial metal steps to the second floor where there was a display of photographs by Olivia Arthur capturing the youth culture of Hull. There were Elvis impersonators, body builders, tattooed bodies and a girl ‘wearing’ a snake. In the middle of the room was a wooden pallet on the floor with newspapers neatly piled high and we wondered whether it was a trendy art installation. But no, they were meant to be read and contained prints of many of the photos on show.

We found the exhibition on the first floor more interesting: photos by Martin Parr which ‘captured Hull’s rich culinary landscape’. As well as shots of the famous Hull patty, Bob Carver’s fish and chip shop and chip spice there was more of the cosmopolitan food introduced to the city by Polish immigrants and other cultural messages. One of my favourites was of a husband and wife outside their deli with a chalkboard saying:

Him – Right pet, get your coat and scarf on, I’m off to pub.
Her – Aw love, are you taking me out?
Him – No, I’m turning the heating off.

On the ground floor was an exhibit called TORN about women from around the world affected by and reacting to war. There was a pile of long strips of rags, personal narratives of women and screens with torn apart red, black and white poppies. We found it all difficult to understand.

We didn’t linger in the ground floor café as we’d just finished lunch, but the “menu”: of ciabatta/wraps, salad and frittata sounded interesting.

Helen Jackson

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