Hull Trailblazers celebrated with exhibition at the Minster

Phil Tutton’s stained glass representation of the iconic Housemartins London 0 – Hull 4 album cover.

On Tuesday 10 September, Hull Minster will open its doors to Hull-based community group #WeMadeThis’ sixth large-scale community craft project, and their second Hull-themed exhibition Hull Spirit 2: Trailblazers.

Following the success of their first exhibition Hull Spirit: Iconic People & Places last September, which attracted around 6000 visitors (admittedly helped a little by the presence of the Museum of the Moon), the group decided to do it all again, maintaining the Hull focus, but shifting it to trailblazers.

Hull Spirit 2 features around 35 makes created by local people of all ages and abilities, including craft groups, Bricknell Primary School and Dove House Hospice. It also includes a number of communal makes produced at the group’s monthly Maker Days.

The exhibits represent a wide range of ‘Hull firsts’, from well-known figures such as William Wilberforce and Amy Johnson, to relatively unsung heroes such as Prof George Gray (who led the team at the University of Hull which discovered LCD technology), David Hartley (the first MP to move a motion in parliament against the slave trade) and Maureen Leathley (Hull’s first prima ballerina). 

Dan Watts of Elephant in the Room Disability Services, made by Maureen Lockyer.

The group is particularly pleased with the inclusion of some modern-day trailblazers, most notably Dan Watts of Elephant in the Room Disability Services, who is working very hard to improve accessibility to the arts for those with disabilities, and who has one very proud auntie in Maureen Lockyer who created the exhibit celebrating his achievements.

The exhibition also hosts the entries to its logo design competition, including winner Alicia Abbott’s (Artlink Explorers) design, which features on all related publicity.

Visitors are encouraged to make their own contribution to the exhibition by adding a lightbulb with their favourite Hull trailblazer to the Bright Ideas Board.

Miranda van Rossum, Chair of #WeMadeThis, has been particularly impressed with the variety of exhibits and the range of crafts and skills displayed: “Although there is some overlap with last year’s exhibition in terms of the people and places represented, it is striking how different this exhibition is. There are many more larger makes, including some which can be interacted with, such as the two sets of angel wings produced by Hull Re-Source. It’s also been good to see more communal makes, such as the Hull Playing Out street, created by residents of the five streets currently involved with the scheme, and the beautiful representation of Maureen Leathley produced by the Rainbow Community Garden Women’s Group. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing some more unusual techniques and materials.”

One make which uses a relatively unusual craft technique is Phil Tutton’s stained glass representation of the iconic Housemartins London 0 – Hull 4 album cover. Phil, who is known around Hull for his wooden signs encouraging people to look after their city, says he had no difficulty picking a subject for his contribution: “It’s easy to find inspiration for my craft projects living in such an inspirational city.” This sentiment is echoed by #WeMadeThis regular Jane Hawes, who made an exhibit celebrating Barbara Buttrick, and who refers to Hull as “an amazing city with a diverse heritage.”

Trevor Sylvester, too, created an unusual make, representing the Minster, which is best described as a ‘badge mosaic’. Talking about the creation of the make, Trevor refers to one of the key benefits of making, namely the positive impact it has on one’s mental health: “You could be having a difficult day, the pressures of everyday life stressing you out. One of the rewarding things of making something is that it can allow you the space and time for self-care, to improve your mental well-being. There are no rules to art and craft, it can be as complex or as simple as you wish.”

William Wilberforce, made by Katherine Stevenson and son Joshua.

Part of the benefit of being involved with a project such as this also lies in sharing the process and the outcome with other people. Katherine Stevenson, who together with her son Joshua (5) created an exhibit referencing William Wilberforce, says it’s “wonderful for people of all ages to be involved.” Valerie Reily, whose creation celebrates the Earle Brothers, also refers to “wonderful groups of people who enjoy sharing their time and handicrafts with the general public, and brightening up the city of Kingston upon Hull.”

The exhibition is on until 29 September during normal Minster opening hours (closed Mondays), and is free to access. An exhibition truly ‘made by Hull’ – go show it some love!


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[Miranda van Rossum – #WeMadeThis]