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Exhibition Review: HIP Hull 2016

The Hull International Photography Festival runs from 1st-30th October 2016. I visited the HIP Photography Festival in Hull on the 18th of October 2016.

This review expresses the  purely personal views of the author.

Hull is a port city in the Humber estuary on the East Coast of England. It’s famous for its university, docks, and cross channel ferries going to Europe.

The main venue is the Princes Quay shopping centre. Opened in 1991, the centre is typical of a retail build of 25 years ago. All white tubular steel and many empty shops. Just as well, because most of the galleries in this venue are empty shops which no doubt can’t be filled in straitened times. Commerce’s loss is arts gain I suppose.

And now to the exhibits…


Smith’s Dock. Ian Macdonald ©Ian Macdonald.

‘Smith’s Dock’ is a large showing of black and white images by Ian MacDonald. The images were taken in 1986 and 1987 when the dock closed. All images were printed by MacDonald, some, the larger ones, were processed in his bath. Beautiful strong black and white images jump off the walls.

This part of the festival is being held in the large HIP gallery on the lower floor of the shopping centre which is set up as a proper gallery. Very well worth a visit. There are a few here I would like to hang on my walls.


Saturday Girl © Dr Casey Orr

‘Saturday Girl’s’
is an exhibition of large colour portraits by Dr Casey Orr, Photographer and senior lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Leeds Becket University. The images, all taken in a pop-up studio, are of girls in Hull. Some images are strong and haunting,though for my taste the double-light highlights in the eyes is a little disconcerting when up close. The exhibition is on the main deck of Princes Quay.

‘Coming Home’ is a group showing, 13 photographers strong, whose “Practise resonates around ideas of home, lifestyle, family, friends and environment” to quote the Festival Guide. The showing is being held on the Main Deck of Princes Quay. For me, the outstanding image in this set was of a tower block shown as a whole but printed as a diptych half and half above and below.


Alcohol and England ©Peter Dench

‘Alcohol and England’, a showing by Peter Dench, is an exhibition about alcohol consumption in the UK. It shows, mainly, the young in the grip of Bacchus. Some are hard to stomach, literally, showing the imbibers and their piles of lurid vomit.

The work is up close and personal and uses flash. Strong images. This exhibition is being shown on the Main Deck of Princes Quay.

The last showing in the Princes Quay centre is the ‘Travel Photographer of the Year’ (TPOTY). Visit to see some of the work in this show. This is much as you would expect. Very ‘National Geographic’ in the main. Saturated, ultra sharp images of exotic places and people and of course, the odd cute animal.


Travel Photographer of the year Exhibition 2016

n.b. because the exhibits in Princes Quay  are staffed by volunteers you need to check whether they are open for your visit. Some don’t open until later in the day.

We then move to Hull Central Library.


Ghetto Prom ©Ilvy Njiokiktjien

‘Ghetto Prom’ by Ilvy Njiokiktjien is a series of strong colour images from the gang-ridden area of Manenberg in Cape Town, South Africa. The images all relate to young people about to attend their senior prom. Some very moving images of hope in a bleak environment.

This set of images is being hosted in a general library area which makes some of them difficult to get close to.


Ghetto prom Exhibit. Hull central Library 2016


Unsettled ©Isabelle Pateer

‘Unsettled’ is a series of images by Isabelle Pateer. The exhibition focuses on an area of Antwerp in Belgium where the expansion of the local port is transforming local areas, and how those transformations are affecting the young in particular.

Unsettled exhibition Hull Ventral Library 2016

The exhibition is beautifully hung in the exhibition room at Hull Central Library. It benefits from being in a purposed room. The images hold together in their groupings. it’s a sign the photographer is well used to staging exhibitions. You get the feel of a ‘real show’ where the whole is considered and displayed to the advantage of both the artist and the viewer. Very well worth a visit. Probably the best exhibit at the festival.

‘HIP club exhibition’. A series of pictures held in the children’s library area at the Central library. The works were hung far too high to be readily readable and enjoyed. I skipped it. Sorry.

There were some other works hung in the cafe at the library. Because the cafe was full of customers and the works were hung on the walls behind them it made it impossible to inspect and admire the pictures as you would be intruding on those sitting at the tables. Wasted images I felt. I don’t remember one.

Lastly to the Kardomah, a cafe come theatre in the city which held The Creative and Cultural Open. The pictures were hung  on the walls of a small theatre.

These were pictures from local photographers. It contained cliche shots and HDR with the occasional close-up portrait. Nothing stood out for me in this exhibit .

n.b.If you are going to visit the Kardomah you will have to check there is nothing on in the theatre.

To sum up. There are 2 outstanding sets of images in the festival:-

1. The ‘Smith’s Dock’ images by MacDonald.

2.The ‘unsettled’ images by Pateer.

Even if these are the only exhibits you went to the festival for it would be worth it.

The festival runs from the first of October 2016 until the 30th October 2016. If you need details of opening hours contact:

HIP gallery

I strongly advise you make contact before you go regarding what’s open and opening hours etc as the impression I got was that it was a bit hit and miss, depending as it does on volunteers.

Hull city centre is in a state of upheaval with many roads being renewed and it’s having a general wash and brush up to get the city ready for when it becomes The City of Culture 2017. That upheaval makes it awkward to visit the various, scattered venues for this festival. It could perhaps have been better had there been a street map included in the otherwise excellent festival guide.

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