Hull, a city so closely tied to its past as a pioneer of the British sea trade and at one time England’s largest whaling port, is perhaps not an immediately obvious candidate for the coveted UK City of Culture title.

But take a closer look and a different side of the city soon reveals itself. The town centre is an impressive mix of Victorian and Georgian architecture, and those walking down Posterngate will discover the spectacular Hull Minster conveying medieval drama rarely found in an urban setting. Even the docks themselves are inherently poetic, as the city’s home-grown poet, Philip Larkin, so masterfully revealed through his writing about the city in the early part of the 20th century. Today this artistic legacy carries forward, and the city is home to a host of artists who continue to respond to Hull and its surrounding regions in their work. In the videos below, take a closer look at Hull’s contemporary arts scene and discover the talent that makes Hull such an exciting and worthy location as this year’s city of culture.

Anna Bean

Hull-based photographic artist Anna Bean’s work touches on ideas of the surreal and the power of imagination. Her fantastical, often unsettling images speak of childhood dreams and inventions, featuring ghostly brides and anthropomorphised owls in ambiguous fairytale settings. Bean’s practice is closely tied to the local community; she takes inspiration from Hull’s graffiti artists of the 1990s and regularly works with younger generations, lecturing in photography, illustration and critical theory. In the video above, see some of Bean’s work and hear her thoughts on Hull’s creative scene.

Saffron Waghorn

Saffron Waghorn is a sculptor with an interest in natural forms and materials. Based in the nearby village of Skipsea, her practice predominantly revolves around stone-carving. Waghorn’s work is frequently shown across the UK, but much of her work remains thematically rooted to the Yorkshire region. She was recently commissioned to create artworks for the local Amy Johnson Festival, held in honour of the Hull-born aviator, and in the video below she discusses this project and her work more broadly as she continues to venture into new and exciting areas of practice.

Yasmin Coe

Born in Hull, singer-songwriter Yasmin Coe is only 15 years old yet she plays five instruments and has made a name as an established live performer. Alongside a string of professionally made music videos, Coe has taken part in local festivals such as the Cleeve Community Carnival. She has been greatly inspired by the local musicians that have come before her, and is a long-time fan of Hull-based band The Frontiers. In the video below, Yasmin discusses the importance of Hull in her creative development and her aspirations for the future.

William Vinegrad

Many people regard weeds as a nuisance, but in his photographs Hull-based artist William Vinegrad unveils their hidden beauty. Continuing his longstanding interest in the manipulation of shape and natural form, Vinegrad focuses on the fauna in his local environment, transforming these plants into abstract, ethereal artistic forms. Alongside a team of fellow artists residing in Hull, Vinegrad recently opened Ground, a new art space on Beverley Road in the city centre. Here the group give talks and provide a space for locals to engage with artistic practice. In the video below, Vinegrad talks about his work and the activities going on at Ground.

Richard Ansett

It is not just artists born in Hull who develop a personal connection to the place. Photographic artist Richard Ansett visited the city as part of his project Are You My Mum?, which saw him take to the streets and photograph women he imagined could be his birth mother, who had given him up for adoption as a child and whom he later discovered lived in Hull. He made posters out of these photographs as a poignant commentary on adoption, opening up the issue in a way that can help other people understand the challenges and complexities of growing up not knowing where one comes from. In the video above, Ansett discusses the project and its origins.

Jon Beney

Before becoming a dancer, Jon Beney was a highly reputed rugby player. A near-death experience brought his rugby career to an end, but with this transformative moment came the inspiration to explore dance. Beney hasn’t looked back since, and has found in dance many parallels with rugby, such as similarities between their relationship to the human body. In the video above, Beney speaks of the power of movement and the life-changing moments that have come to define his life’s work.

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