Blade artwork installed in Hull as part of UK City of Culture celebrations

Blade arrives

Blade arrives - Credit: Joan Russell

A historic maritime city takes delivery of a ‘giant sea creature’ as it begins to celebrate a year of culture

And it's almost there

And it's almost there - Credit: Joan Russell

The city of Hull begins to live its year of culture with a series of spectacular events including the installation of a monumental work by the artist Nayan Kulkarni. The multimedia artist took a 75 metre long, 28 tonnes rotor blade - the largest handmade object in the world that would normally be at the top of a wind turbine - to create an enormous piece of sculpture for the newly renovated Queen Victoria Square in the heart of Hull.

The sculpture called ‘Blade’ bisects the square, from Saville Street to Carr Lane, rising to a height of more than five metres at its tip, allowing double-decker buses to pass underneath. It stands in striking contrast to the familiar facades of the neo-classical Ferens Art Gallery, the Italianate Maritime Museum and Hull City Hall.

It is the first in a series of major public art commissions as part of Look Up, a year-long programme for Hull 2017 that will see different artists creating temporary artworks designed to make people look at and experience the city in new ways. Nayan Kulkarni said Blade, which will remain in the square until March 18th, was a profound material gesture, a spectacle, an obstacle and an object of wonder.

Martin Green, CEO and director Hull 2017, described the work as a dramatic, yet graceful addition to Hull’s city centre. He added: ‘Despite its size, what is striking about the sculpture is its elegance. Putting this example of state of the art technology against the historic charms of Queen Victoria Square makes you look at this fine public space differently.

Blade is slowly lifted into position

Blade is slowly lifted into position - Credit: Joan Russell

‘It’s a structure we would normally expect out at sea and in a way it might remind you of a giant sea creature, which seems appropriate with Hull’s maritime history. It’s a magnificent start to our Look Up programme, which will see artists creating site specific work throughout 2017 for locations around the city.’

Leader of Hull City Council, Councillor Stephen Brady said it was a fantastic accolade to have the largest handmade object in the world ‘right here in our city centre and it is sure to bring visitors from far and wide. Blade will set off our newly transformed public realm, and symbolises Hull’s cultural and economic regeneration. We are proud to be supporting this.’

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B75 Rotor blades are the world’s largest handmade fibreglass components to be cast as a single object and the one being placed into the centre of Hull is one of the first to be made by workers at the Siemens factory in Hull. Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier said their collaboration with the artist and the city of Hull reflected their desire to make a positive impact as a Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Major Partner. ‘Blade brings to life the engineering and manufacturing excellence of which we are so proud and makes it tangible for the people of Hull and visitors to the city,’ he added.

Blade – handcrafted by workers at the Siemens factory at Alexandra Dock, Hull – is one of a series of installations to be unveiled at locations around the city throughout Hull’s City of Culture year as part of the Look Up programme.

Meanwhile Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, described as one of the finest regional art galleries in the country, reopened in January after its £4.5million refurbishment. The first season of 2017 includes a major re-hang of the outstanding permanent collection which includes works by Frans Hals, Canaletto, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Mark Wallinger as well as newly acquired contemporary art and a major bequest by Joseph Wright of Derby.

The gallery’s Open Exhibition, celebrates 50 years of local and aspiring artists this year. Artwork will be selected by judges including Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, the Hull born actress Maureen Lipman CBE and the internationally renowned sculptor and Royal Academician David Mach. The chosen artworks will be displayed until March 12th.

Other major highlights will feature works by internationally-acclaimed sculptor Ron Mueck as part of ARTIST ROOMS on Tour, and the unveiling of the Spencer Tunick Sea of Hull commission, that famously took place in the city in July last year. The 3,200 strong nude portrait gives a tangible sense of a city undergoing an ambitious transformation and is the largest nude installation ever staged in the UK.

At the beginning of January Hull UK City of Culture 2017 was officially launched with major new commission Made in Hull, a journey through almost 100 years of the city’s history curated by BAFTA-nominated documentary film-maker Sean McAllister. The first night of Made in Hull included In with a Bang, a spectacular fireworks display over the river Humber fired from two barges on the Humber, at 8.17pm (20.17).

Inspired by the city, its history and people, artists for Made in Hull have used large-scale projection, soundscapes, site-specific art installations, animation, archive material and interactive live performance to transform iconic buildings, streets, the skyline and other public spaces around Hull’s city centre.

The team behind Made in Hull includes acclaimed Hull-based writer Rupert Creed; production designer Ala Lloyd, who worked on the London 2012 Games; lighting designer Durham Marenghi, renowned for work ranging from the Diamond Jubilee to the Rio 2016 Games; and BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award winning composer and sound designer Dan Jones. They have worked with a variety of local and international artists to weave narratives from the last century in exciting, magical and breathtaking ways, with the city itself providing a unique and evocative canvas.

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