Hull Cityscapes Project

Hull Tidal Surge Barrier (no. 2); light on the river looking east.

Hull Tidal Surge Barrier (no. 2): Light on the River, Looking South to the Deep
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2018

Paragon Station, from Holiday Inn.

Hull is a very flat city and it's difficult to find buildings tall enough to provide panoramas or good vantage points for cityscapes. The views here are from Hull College Tower, the "Observatory" of Hull University Brynmor Jones Library, council estate tower blocks, and Premier and Holiday Inns. More recently, I've moved to ground level for the Tidal Surge Barrier, and I'm planning a series of paintings of the River Hull and its post-industrial waterfront.

The larger paintings are 40" x 50" (102 x 127 cm) and are here accompanied by some poems from Pilgrim Tongues. Some of the paintings have been exhibited at: the Estate of the Nation exhibition, Octagon Centre, Thornton Estate 2015; the Ferens Gallery, Hull, Open Exhibition 2016; the Yorkshire Open Exhibition, Beverley 2015 and 2016; Hull-in-Paint travelling exhibition 2015 and 2016, and at a one-man Hull-in Paint pop-up exhibition at Princes Quay, Hull, 2016.

Ten of the paintings were exhibited in Hull Central Library as part of the Hull to Iceland and Back multimedia event commissioned by Humber Mouth Literature Festival, October 2017, which included a performance of Voyage for Solo Trumpet, my musical collaboration with the composer Deborah Pritchard and trumpeter Simon Desbruslais.

Paragon Station:View from Holiday Inn
Size: 102 x 127 cm Medium: oil on canvas Date: 2017

Smailes Goldie hosted an exhibition of nine of the paintings at their Hull offices from November 2017 until mid-February 2018. The private viewing on 6 November also included a brief performance of excerpts from Voyage for Solo Trumpet.

All the paintings are for sale, except View from Premier Inn Over the Deep, River Hull and the Humber, which is shown courtesy the collection of Rosie Millard. Please contact Cliff for prices or to arrange viewings.

Click on the painting on the right to enlarge. Click again to enlarge further.

To see enlarged versions of the other paintings, please click on the first image below to activate a slideshow.

Paragon Railway Station, painting by Cliff Forshaw

1) Paragon Station: View from Thornton Estate High Rise.
Size: 74 x 120 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2016

2) View over Drypool from Hull College Tower: Demolition of Clarence Flour Mill.
Size: 74 x 120 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2016

00 Paragon Railway Station, Hull

Paragon purrs: whooshed
doors, whistles; mag-lev trains rise,
aim at squares of wheat,

are gone on the dot
toward sand-paper, wrinkles
painted on the sea.

Your chopper’s eye shows
an immaculate reef-knot:
motorways, A roads,

underpasses, fly-
overs slipped through each other
to baize estates, leafy,

neat neighbourly streets,
with health and leisure centres,
Big Screen complexes;

escalators coil
round marinas, malls, swoop
to galleries, cathedrals,

gleaming academic towers.

*

Drypool, Clarence Flour Mills Demolition

Maybe to mock us,
there are mock-ups of all this
in the Mayor’s office.

Balsa, perspex, card,
wire, felt, Hornby 00 trees;
hand-painted families

cross concourse, zoom high
to where their Dinky hatch-backs
are unstacked from sky,

and a couple of sniffs
of cotton wool are caught on
one lonely chimney.

Back at Paragon,
the face-lifted station
is where the future seems

to have run out of steam.
From up there you’d see
DIY factories:

Texas, Homebase, B&Q.
And further, beyond
where Spurn’s thin bird-bone of sand

drifts in from the east,
the estuary,
the night-bound ferry:

the wake from the lit-up P&O.

Construction, Hull University medical building. View from my office window.

Construction of Medical Building, University of Hull: View from My Office Window
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2017

Cranes

All day the cranes have towed us west,
hauled blocks of light into the sky.
You note their stilted charm, their tall disdain,
their slow t’ai chi to point at you.

They swivel to admire size zero
reflections in the glass: banks of paparazzi
firing as you alight from the taxi,
lug luggage to the sand-blasted station.

They oversee where estuary
washes margins, where whales beach.
Glaciers of blubber: gravity is avid
for these creatures; their organs flatten

under fat, their own slack weight;
pockets of gas blurt up through skin.
Up go the cranes as land hits the deck
and something in our cells runs off to sea.

It all goes up. They slot in power and light,
dig up earth, hollow our city out, so that,
hawsers screwed tight into cumulus,
our pasts will be less of a burden,

when we have suspended all our longings,
all our buildings from the sky.

Hull Tidal Barrier, painting by Cliff Forshaw

Hull Tidal Surge Barrier: View North to Premier Inn
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2018

Hull Tidal Surge Barrier (no. 2); light on the river looking east.

Hull Tidal Surge Barrier (no. 2); Light on the River, Looking South to the Deep
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2018

Hull, Statue of Wilberforce

Statue of William Wilberforce: View from Hull College Tower
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2016

Wilberforce (1759 – 1833), who led the fight against slavery, was famously a native of Hull and a MP for Yorkshire. Along with the Humber Bridge, this is one of the city’s most famous and characteristic sights. From up here, you see some odd details, such as the wire running down the statue’s back from the tiny lightning conductor perched on the head like pair of horns, or a hare's pricked up ears. The statue, with its monumental sense of Victorian civic pride, towers over the newer buildings and car-par. Its warm, but craggy stone contrasts with glass and smooth modular panels, the concrete silo of the multi-story car-park concrete and the functional aerials and air-conditioning littering the roofs. Wilberforce has his back to us, perhaps looking into an ideal and unattainable future. The only living presence is a small figure down on the ground in the lower left.

Anlaby Road seen from Thornton Estate tower block

Anlaby Road: View from Thornton Estate High Rise
Size: 90 x 121 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2017

Vew is from one of the top floors of a high-rise block of flats on the Thornton Estate overlooking Anlaby Road, Hull; the flat belonged to a woman in her nineties, who liked to tell stories of the strange and often outrageous scenes she had witnessed from her eyrie above the often chaotic streets .As with many areas at the back of train stations, there is a definite sense of being on the wrong side of the tracks. But the city changes abruptly from block to block and you can glimpse the municipal buildings, department stores and office blocks a little further down the road.

I started this painting in the summer, but had various problems with how to deal with the spaces to either side of the main road. I abandoned it for a few months and came back to it over Christmas and New Year 2016-17, when I sharpened the edge of the road on the right to a sort of cliff edge, and added the odd bus and car. Though it was now winter, I decided to keep the summer brightness, which perhaps highlights the urban messiness, or maybe adds a nore of sheery, if realistic, optimism. The last touch was the celebratory glass of Stella on the sill.

Below the window on the right is the burned-out shell of the New York Night Club, with Paragon Railway Station car park on the left. I liked the mish-mash of architectural styles, from the mock-Moorish domes to office blocks, from painted bay-windows to dilapidated backs, from scaffolding to overgrown gardens.

View from Premier Inn over the Deep, River Hull and the Humber.

View from Premier Inn Over the Deep, River Hull and the Humber
(courtesy the collection of Rosie Millard)
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2017.

View of Paragon Station from Holiday Inn

Paragon Station:View from Holiday Inn
Size: 102 x 127 cm Medium: oil on canvas Date: 2017

View from Hull University Library

View from Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull.
Size: 91 x 120 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2015

 

View from Hull University Library

Corner View from Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull
Size: 60 x 122 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2015

William Wilberforce Looks out Over Hull.

William Wilberforce Looks Out over Hull: View from Hull College Tower
Size: 50 x 120 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2015

No Text

Energy Works Construction, Wincolmlee.
Size: 102 x 127 cm. Medium: oil on canvas. Date: 2018

View over Hull with Statue of Wilberforce.

Some earlier paintings and preliminary sketches for the cityscapes project.

View over Hull with Statue of Wilberforce.

View from Hull College Tower

View from Hull College Tower: City Hall and back of Maritime Museum

Drypool Bridge

Drypool, River Hull

Drypool, Clarence Flour Mills Before Demolition

Drypool, Clarence Flour Mills Before Demolition

Hull River Lights

Hull River Lights

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