Hull Cityscapes Project
Started as part of the Professional Practice programme at Hull College Faculty of Art and Design in 2014, the project consists of a series of large oil paintings to be accompanied by poems for exhibition in 2016 / 17. 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, looking out with the statue of William Wilberforce over Queen's Gardens, or in the opposite direction over Drypool with its blue bridge and now demolished Clarence Mills. Other views are from the "Observatory" on the top floor of Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull, and from one of the tower blocks on the Thornton Estate, overlooking Paragon Station on one side and the Anlaby Road on the other.
The larger paintings are just over 3' x 4' and are here accompanied by some poems from Pilgrim Tongues. The project has been supported by the Goodwin Development Trust. 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 2015; the Yorkshire Open Exhibition, Beverley 2015; and Hull-in-Paint travelling exhibition 2015 and 2016.
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.
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,
overs slipped through each other
to baize estates, leafy,
neat neighbourly streets,
with health and leisure centres,
Big Screen complexes;
round marinas, malls, swoop
to galleries, cathedrals,
gleaming academic towers.
Maybe to mock us,
there are mock-ups of all this
in the Mayor’s office.
Balsa, perspex, card,
wire, felt, Hornby 00 trees;
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
Texas, Homebase, B&Q.
And further, beyond
where Spurn’s thin bird-bone of sand
drifts in from the east,
the night-bound ferry:
the wake from the lit-up P&O.
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.