Contents May Vary at Red Gallery in Hull Contemporary Art Continues Despite the Big Freeze
By Michelle Dee. Photographs courtesy Andrew Quinn
While the city of Hull struggled against the adverse weather conditions on Friday 8th January and people tried in vain to get home after many businesses were closed earlier than usual, a group of dedicated contemporary artists were preparing for the opening night of Contents May Vary at Red Gallery in the city.
Battling against all odds, the show opened on time just minutes away from the gridlocked roads and traffic chaos in the city centre. The Manchester based art collective of Alice Bradshaw, Liz Murphy and Richard Shields have in the past worked collaboratively on exhibitions.
This show saw them working individually on either side of the Pennines, without communicating their ideas to each other for the show. The collective have previously used vacated buildings, car boots and other unconventional spaces to present their work and have received awards and accolades from local and national press.
Richard Shields' practice explores the coming together of high brow and low brow art in everyday found objects. Entering the first white washed space you are faced with three pizza boxes on the three adjoining walls. The first box has its central image cut out revealing the corrugated cardboard structure which gives the box its usual rigidity. The second is complete, with a painted central image of the iconic Italian scene of the Bridge of Sighs.
The picture has been painstakingly reproduced mimicking the styles of Canaletto and Ruskin, renaissance painters of the period. The third box, which on closer inspection reveals itself to be a canvas on wood painting, shows the box as it is used, then discarded today.
I learn from Richard that the use of that particular printed image on the box has been recently discontinued so lending Richard's work a sense of rarity. However, by coincidence we learn that a Hull firm uses the same image albeit on a white box not the brown as in Richard's piece. The heavy varnishing on the three boxes refers to the practice of varnishing paintings from past eras, just before opening night where they would be seen for the first time.
The middle of the Red Gallery has been altered by Liz Murphy, our second visiting artist creating a new space. A space where there is an initial feeling of secrecy and intrigue as you enter. On the far wall there are the words, 'This One is For Marni Nixon,' heavily daubed in black paint. The wall is lit by eleven desk lamps placed below the dedication that is shouting out to be heard and seen.
Marni Nixon was the voice behind many of the musical stars of yesteryear, performances; she was the voice of Audrey Hepburn's Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, she brought life to Deborah Kerr's English school teacher in The King and I, and it was Marni's voice that Richard Beymer's, Tony, fell in love with in West Side Story not that of Natalie Wood: although it is widely thought that Wood was deceived into thinking they would use her recordings.
The truth is Marni was doomed to sing her part from behind the stage curtain because she was deemed too unattractive and for a long time no-one knew of this shameful deceit on the theatre and film companies' part.
Liz obviously feels a sense of outrage by Marni's talent going unrecognized and not being credited as part of the cast. This idea is taken further by a series of ink drawings covering one corner of the space: roughly sketched scenes from the three hit shows, but in each case Marni Nixon's face adorns the shoulders of the leading ladies.
Although shining a light quite literally on Marni Nixon's closeted career, Liz suggests the secret that the film companies' were desperate to keep, in the enclosed nature of her constructed space.
This piece of work seems to underline our continuing obsession with superficialities; perceived beauty and pleasing appearance holding more sway than raw talent. Would we have loved the musicals any less if Marni had been credited with those favourite songs?
The third and final piece is an audio visual installation and is arguably the most powerful. Blank Newspapers asks questions about the pervasive nature of today's mass media.
As you walk into the space you immediately become aware of a hubbub of voices, emanating from four speakers placed in the four corners of the space, all conversationally repeating the word 'Blah'. By conversationally I mean as if 'blah' was taking the place of all the other words in a narrative, complete with different intonation, pauses and imagined punctuation.
As you move around the space taking in the looped footage of crumpled balls of blank paper all moving on the TV screen in the centre of the space you find your ear tuning into different Blah voices. In fact you can stand in the middle listen for one 'Blah' voice and then go and find from which corner it is coming. In this way I was drawn to one particular voice, I like to think because it seemed to stand out from the rest it was the voice of the artist responsible for Blank Newspapers, Alice Bradshaw.
The opposing wall contains a row of newspaper stands in which sit blank newspapers. Alice invites the viewer to pick them up and read them. How you choose to read a blank newspaper is left up to you. On the wall are instructions on how to document this unusual reading experience and directions to where you can send your interpretations of the challenge.
I feel compelled to come up with an original innovative way to read, use or otherwise interact with the blank paper. It is this interactive aspect that would make me choose Alice's piece over the other two if pushed. I like the idea that the art work could be ongoing, provoking new ideas and extending its life outside of the space where it was first seen.
The opening night was attended by twenty or more people, good numbers on a night where many larger events would have just cancelled. One enthusiastic couple had walked a considerable number of miles to the show after their bus had given up on Hedon Road, thus proving the Red Gallery's remarkable appeal.
Reviews, Books - Seers by Karen Wolfe Reviewed by Tim Roux
Ever since the publication of The Philosopher's Stone, I have been troubled by a niggling concern. It doesn't keep me awake at night but I do regularly accost strangers and ask them, 'Whatever happened to Harry Potter's grandparents?'
Harry Potter was a baby when his parents were killed. His parents look like they were in their twenties, max. thirties.
Reviews, Books - Broken Dreams by Nick Quantrill Reviewed by Tim Roux
Over the last couple of years, Nick Quantrill has made an enviable reputation for himself as a highly accomplished true-to-the-gospels (of St. Elmore Leonard and St. Raymond Chandler) crime fiction writer who reliably delivers precisely crafted plots, authentic hardboiled dialogue and classic PI fisticuffs action.
His tales are suffused with an atmosphere of compounding tension
Reviews, Books - The Unitary Authority Of Ersatz by Rich Sutherland Reviewed by Tim Roux
You know when you are sitting there typing away at your new book and suddenly a million tons of waterfall cascade all over you and sweep you away, and there is nothing you can do to resist as you tumble mid-air among all those words and ideas, but you know that when you hit the pool at the bottom, and should you survive, you will be handed a tick-box questionnaire by the publisher
Reviews, Books - Breaking Faith by Stuart Aken Reviewed by Tim Roux
One of the great pleasures of reading indie authors is that they are often literary Luddites, exuberantly smashing the commercial frameworks imposed on their more industrially-produced cousins, replacing them with a more zestful, fresh, individual and, might I say, compelling approach to their work.
It is not that they do not recognise as well as anyone the existence of the rules
Reviews, Books - A Book at Christmas Reviewed by Tim Roux
About eighteen months ago I decided to look around and see who else was writing books in the Hull and
East Riding region, much encouraged by discovering the work of Hull crime fiction and gangster authors
Nick Quantrill and Danny Birch.
I thought that there would only be a few of us knocking about, veritable prophets on our own shifting
mud banks, but Nick Quantrill and Rich Sutherland (then at Waterstones) Read more...
Reviews, Theatre - Tuesday 27th October 09 - Write To Speak Featuring Kate Tempest and Matt Panesh at Hull Truck By Dick Spring
The consistency in stunning quality of acts brought to perform at this night (which is Yorkshire's only theatre based spoken word / poetry night) by Hull poet Joe Hakim is simply phenomenal.
With another fantastic and packed house, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event.
Opened as usual by Hull's flag bearing poet in residence Joe Hakim and his stage partner Mike Watts, their competence and stagecraft is second to one, with lots of good interaction
Reviews, Theatre - Tuesday 27th October 09 - Write To Speak Featuring Kate Tempest and Matt Panesh at Hull Truck By Michelle Dee
Just had to write something about Tuesday's Write To Speak at Hull Truck Theatre. The regular event showcases the best poetry and spoken word from around the country.
Tonight we have the incredible vocal dexterity of Kate Tempest (London) and the poems, ponderings
and profane humour of Matt Panesh (Manchester) on his Welcome to the U.K. tour.
Reviews, Theatre - Write to Speak featuring Kate Fox and Scarlet Lights at Hull Truck - Wednesday 16th September 09 By Mark Walmsley
The first performance of the new season of Write to Speak came round pretty quickly and most definitely replicated the first gig a year ago with regards to support and talent.
On a personal level, I fully understood what was on offer and although the event didn't seem very well advertised, I was notified by thisisUll the day before and without a hesitation changed my appointments for the big day in order that I made sure I was there for the kick off, in fact I was
Reviews, Theatre - Wednesday 16th September 2009 - Scarlet lights Theatre Company Performs Retail is Detail at Write to Speak at Hull Truck Theatre By Danielle Rhodes
Retail Is Detail is undoubtedly a 'maverick' production of contemporary comedy, embodying a highly versatile and compatible cast as rare as rocking horse shit. From start to finish the audience is inflamed by the radiance from the performer's energy and fast pace scenes.
The play displays a young educated girl facing unemployment, regrettably a conventional product of the current recession. In her despairing attempt to find employment
Reviews, Theatre - Write to Speak featuring Tony Walsh and Dennis Just Dennis at Hull Truck - Wednesday 15th June 09 By Mark Walmsley
The third and final Write to Speak event of this season at the Hull Truck Theatre on Wednesday 15th July, was headlined by two nationally acclaimed performance poets, Dennis Just Dennis and Tony Walsh, who both hail from Manchester.
The nights entertainment was introduced by local poet Joe Hakim who was, in effect 'on the subs bench' as far as performing on these occasions go.
Joe has a bigger challenge and I dare say a bigger audience to present himself to at the fourth
Latitude Festival in Suffolk where he is performing in the poetry arena on Sat 18th and
Sun 19th July.Read more...
Reviews, Theatre - Write to Speak featuring Luke Wright at Hull Truck - Monday 29th June 09 By Mark Walmsley
After attending the first Write to Speak session back in May featuring Mike Watts, Joe Hakim and Mandi Lowe, I certainly wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to attend the second instalment with Luke Wright on Monday night.
I arrived at pretty much the same time as the last Write to Speak performance at about 7.20 pm for an 8.00
Reviews, Films - Emma Rugg's Directions Tour By Steve Rudd
It's fair to say that it has been relatively quiet on the Emma Rugg front over the past couple of years. I, for one, thought she'd relocated to the United States in the wake of the Directions Tour she undertook there with Henry Doss in 2007. Having first made contact through the BBC radio show Raw Talent in 2003, Emma had visited Henry in the states on a couple of occasions prior to heading over to hit the Read more...
Reviews, Arts - Adrian Johnson: All Wound Up - Red Gallery exhibition, March-April 2009 By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
I am currently re-reading John Carey's The Intellectuals and The Masses, a fascinating (and sometimes troubling) survey of how the former regarded the latter from the late 19th Century until the 1930's.
He charts a course via Nietzsche's theories of 'the Superman vs. the common people' (guess his preference
Reviews, Theatre - Write to Speak at Hull Truck - Wednesday 27th May 09 By Mark Walmsley
Having found the thisisUll website by accident while looking for an
outlet for my hobby and passion, Writing, I was welcomed by Cilla after an initial
contact who took a page of my work I submitted and pasted it on the World Wide Web as
seen, titled as The Right Hand of God. In addition to this, she asked me if I would be
interested in attending the Write to Speak gig at the Hull Truck on Wednesday 27th May.
Reviews, Theatre - Funny Turns and the Opening of The New Hull Truck Theatre By Gary Clark
I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the opening gala night of the very
impressive Hull Truck Theatre to get a first hand look at the new venue and to see the
opening night of the latest John Godber play, Funny Turns.
The company went to great expense to make all the invited guests welcome with vats of free champagne and a choice of wines already poured out for the 440 guests to gorge
Reviews, Films - AWAYDAYS at The Bradford Film Festival By Margaret J Shillingford
When Carty meets Elvis at a Bunnymen gig, they fall headlong into a volatile friendship that each of them aches for but neither can control. Violent, sexy and funny, Awaydays is a blade-sharp rites-of-passage that buzzes with the post-punk energy of its late-70s Liverpool setting.
Based on the classic novel by Kevin Sampson, and pulsating to a soundtrack of
Joy Division, The Cure, Read more...
Reviews, Films - The Confession By Steve Rudd
Expertly directed by Dave Kebo and Rudi Liden, The Confession is an extraordinary movie for many and varied reasons, not least because it was shot all in one take. Another major reason why the movie is so unique comes down to the fact that it is 'interactive' and features three and a half addictive hours of multi-angle footage.
Having been shot via a multitude of strategically placed CCTV
Reviews, Films - Slumdog Millionaire By Ruth
I don't go to the movies, and I don't usually enjoy love stories.
My idea of a good love story is Thelma and Louise, Crash, or possibly Monster
(with Charlize Theron).
The darker element of humanity is what I find appealing.
I went with my family to view this film and was utterly blown away.
We left the cinema feeling as though we'd been slapped hard across the
face and somehow enjoyed it.
Reviews, Books - The Dance of the Pheasodile by Tim Roux (Upfront Publishing) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
With his sixth novel, Hull native Tim Roux, is certainly one of the city's most prolific writers. A committed champion of all things East Yorkshire, the publication of his crime story, The Dance of The Pheasodile is his well deserved opportunity to take the limelight.
With a fulfilling job, a successful wife and two beautiful children, Keith McGuire leads an idyllic middle-class life in the south of England.
Reviews, Books - How Not To Manage by Adam Kirkman and Daniel Mayhew (Quick Brown Fox Publications) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
Think you're a great manager? Think you know how to get the best out of people whilst
increasing your personal performance and worth? Think again - you can be better -
it's simply a matter of attitude. If this all sounds a bit too much like hard word,
fear not, this new spoof management manual from York's Adam Kirkman and Daniel Mayhew
is here to
Reviews, Books - What Do I Know Anyway? by Jamie Mcgarry Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Writing poetry is a painstaking craft, and it's clear from the outset that Scarborough-based
Jamie McGarry spends a lot of time in perfecting his poems.
An award-winning poet at a young age, Jamie recently unleashed What Do I Know Anyway? - a wry look at life in the twenty-first century.
Consisting of twenty-nine superb poems which are spread over seventy-five pages, there
really is something for everybody in this,
Reviews, Films - The Wave (Germany, 2008) and Hunger (UK/Ireland, 2008): Fascism & Faeces By Philip Wincolmlee Barnes
European cinema has a substantial post-war tradition of coming to terms with, exploring or challenging 20th Century fascism and, in particular, Germany's uneasy goose-stepping heritage, its subsequent national 'identity crisis', and its more recent spasms of political unrest.
For example, the flirtatious - and some might say notorious - excesses
of Night Porter (Dirk BogardeRead more...