Thousands strip naked and paint themselves blue for the Sea of Hull

Spencer Tunick's Sea of Hull installation Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Spencer Tunick's Sea of Hull installation Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

People in Hull got naked for American artist Spencer Tunick as part of a mass street art installation.

Spencer Tunick's Sea of Hull installation Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Spencer Tunick's Sea of Hull installation Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

At least 3,200 men and women wearing just body paint took part in Tunick’s Sea of Hull work. They wore four shades of blue in celebration of the city’s rich maritime heritage and connections and posed at a series of sites across some of Hull’s best-known historic locations from the former Queens Dock, now a city centre park, to the Guildhall and the award-winning Scale Lane swing bridge over the River Hull.

Tunick’s new body of work commissioned by the city’s Ferens Art Gallery is one of the highlights of the gallery’s programme in 2017, when Hull is UK City of Culture. ‘The Sea of Hull installation was one of the most fantastic projects I’ve ever done,’ said Tunick. ‘And it was inspiring to be able to intertwine the city’s maritime heritage against an urban back-drop throughout the whole piece. It’s always wonderful to see the various sized people covered in paint walking through the streets of a city I admire. I’m looking forward to the exhibition of my final works made here in Hull, in the spring of 2017.’

Councillor Terry Geraghty, Hull City Council cabinet member for culture and leisure, said they had been overwhelmed by the level of interest Tunick’s work has generated. ‘Spencer Tunick has worked in many cities across the world from Montreal to Melbourne and Barcelona to Buenos Aires. We are delighted that we can now add Hull to the artist’s fantastic list of landmark locations.’

Kirsten Simister, curator of art for Ferens Art Gallery said they had no idea how many people would respond to the request to take part in the installation. ‘It took off like a rocket from day one with an overwhelming number of people signing up and we are delighted to see how Spencer has brought them together to create some remarkable new images and unforgettable memories for themselves.

‘The newly commissioned work will take pride of place as part of a major exhibition at the newly refurbished Ferens Art Gallery during 2017, when Hull is host to the UK City of Culture celebrations and will be purchased for the Ferens permanent collection as a legacy for the city and its people.’

Spencer Tunick is the first major artistic commission to be announced for 2017. Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, said: ‘The team at the Ferens Art Gallery have worked incredibly hard to bring this world-class artist to Hull, adding to the excitement of it being UK City of Culture.

‘It’s also a fantastic opportunity for people locally and further afield to be involved ahead of 2017 and I can’t wait to see the resulting images when they are unveiled at the gallery next year as part an exciting exhibition.’

The Spencer Tunick Sea of Hull installation had the largest number of people taking part in any of Tunick’s previous UK artworks, beating Gateshead in 2005 and Salford in 2010. People from 20 countries registered to take part including 80-year-old Stephane Janssen from the USA, who has posed 20 times before, his first being at the age of 64. The commission was secured using the Ferens Endowment Fund.

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