Hull Rises was a bread baking and creative writing workshop at Western Library, Hull on Saturday 29th July, 11am-3pm. I initially found the event through social media, as so much of my life is connected and communicated these days, and I readily booked tickets weeks in advance, to see how poetry, bread-making, visual arts, and creative writing could be woven
Introduction - Who am I...
Originally from Birmingham I always tell people that I was born “practically underneath spaghetti junction”, to prove my Brummie credentials, of course there are no streets directly beneath the Gravelly Hill Interchange, but from Powick Road, the street that I grew up on, I certainly had a prime view of the swirling traffic on the mass of concrete roads that sprang up at the bottom of my street just a few weeks before I was born. Later, my learning journey brought me north to Hull in East Yorkshire in the early Nineties, where I could hardly believe I was allowed onto a Fine Art Degree course, it sounded so important and out of reach from the Stourbridge Art College where I studied for just one year to decide what I wanted to do in life. I loved my time at Humberside University, I was encouraged to explore and experiment across all the departments with drawing, painting, collage, photography, printmaking, and critical debates! I thrived on the enthusiasm of the lecturers, the confidence of the students and the openness to experimentation. I was encouraged to go out an interview “real artists”, such as Helen Chadwick, who graciously gave me her time and access to her resources for the wonderful “Piss Flowers” for my own dissertation. I left University life in 1994 with a 2:1 BA Honours and no idea how to connect with the real world, let alone the arts world. My career in the arts really began with Artlink, as a fundraiser in the late 1990’s, I was brought in to work with the then Director, to help grow the small community arts organisation into a thriving and constantly evolving arts organisation. We grew the organisation in financial terms, whilst retracting our geographical base, in an attempt to focus our energies onto the estate communities of Hull. These were exciting times, we devised projects with communities to bring Artists into schools, hospitals, housing associations and churches, that were largely forgotten places, as was Hull. The communities were still struggling with a loss of identity and industry after the demise of the fishing industry, and there was little opportunity in the city for young people and families and a sense of abandonment prevailed. This fired my passion for working in the community in a way that I had not expected. I find it hard now to conceive another sector within the arts that I would prefer to be part of. But the academic world has kindly offered me another way in which to engage with the community arts sector and now I have the fortune to review and learn about why we operated as a community arts sector, in the way that we did, during the beginning of the 21st century. I now have the time and resources to review if we did the best job that we could have done and what the future might hold for an ever evolving and highly self-critical sector, which I believe is crucial to our success as human beings, and should in fact play a larger role in the development and evolution of this city and all other cities around the world today.