Culture & History — 13 July 2016

On July 9, 2016, thousands of people stripped and painted themselves blue for a Spencer Tunick art installation in Hull, England.

Approximately 3,200 people, including participants from 20 countries, were posing at some of the city’s major landmarks. They caused quite a stir around the city, with hundreds lying down across a road in the city centre, while others circled one of Hull’s parks. But it was when they put their clothes back on that caused the most bizarre sights, with models resembling Smurfs as they walked, and cycled around the city, some covering their modesty with cardboard boxes.

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The Sea of Hull project was created by New York based artist Spencer Tunick, and is believed to be the largest of its kind ever to be held in the UK. The hundreds who gathered at dawn were daubed with four shades of blue body paint, in celebration of Hull’s maritime heritage, and then gathered for a series of site specific installations, around some of the city’s best known historic locations. These included the former Queens Dock, now a city centre park, the Guildhall and the award winning Scale Lane swing bridge, over the River Hull. Tunick’s latest work has been commissioned by Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery.

It will be one of the highlights of the gallery’s programme in 2017, when Hull is UK City of Culture. Tunick said: “The Sea of Hull installation was one of the most fantastic projects I’ve ever done, and it was inspiring to be able to intertwine the city’s maritime heritage, against an urban backdrop throughout the whole piece.

“The photo incorporates some of the city’s unique locations, including the architectural steel structured masterpiece that is Scale Lane Bridge, framed by Georgian and Victorian buildings, adding to the striking shots captured during the installation. It’s always wonderful to see the various sized people, covered in paint walking through the streets of a city I admire. I’m looking forward to the exhibition of my final works, made here in Hull in the spring of 2017.”

The council said Saturday’s turnout is the largest number of participants, taking part in any of Tunick’s previous UK artworks, beating Gateshead in 2005 and Salford in 2010. Curator of art for Ferens Art Gallery Kirsten Simister said: “When we announced this back in March we were excited, but we had no idea how many people here would respond. It took off like a rocket from day one, with an overwhelming number of people signing up, and we are delighted to see how Spencer has brought them together today, to create some remarkable new images and unforgettable memories for themselves.”

Credit for finding the news item goes to Sandesh

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