2017 Volunteers put in the picture by new show


They have been the glue that has held Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture together – and now the 2017 volunteers are to take their turn in the spotlight.

The 3,000 volunteers, who have been the face of Hull during the past 12 months and welcomed millions of visitors to the city, are to feature in a new exhibition called The Big Picture which runs from 20 January to 25 February at the Humber Street Gallery.

The exhibition features the army of volunteers in their “scandalous blue” and “shocking pink” uniforms taking part in huge outdoor art installations which has seen them line the Humber Bridge, take to the roof of St Stephen’s Shopping Centre and splash around on giant inflatables in Princes Quay.

Its aim is to tell “the story of a group of people coming together as one to create something that is bigger than themselves.”

The show is the brainchild of Shaun Crummy, head of volunteering for Hull 2017, and brought to life by photographer Leo Francis, drone pilot Chris Fenton and producer Sarah Harris, who served as artistic director for the photo shoots.

Sarah said: “We wanted to say thank you to the volunteers and we decided the best way to do that was to create a series of photographs.

“We wanted to say thank you for all the hard work everyone has done, the time they have given and the support they gave to the programme that helped make 2017 a success.”

Photographer Leo, who was charged with coming up with the series of imaginative shoots, said the Big Picture had been a challenging, but rewarding, experience.

He said: “We’ve done eight shoots over six weeks using over 2,000 volunteers. It’s been really great.

“We’ve shot from kayaks, we’ve used drones, we have built sets, built scaffolding towers, been in a scissor lift and we’ve done all sorts.”

For KCOM marketing manager Rachel Constable “coming together as one to create something bigger” during 2017 included performing in the Seven Alleys show in East Park and marching in the Hull Pride parade wearing a feather boa.

For The Big Picture, Rachel and 688 other volunteers met on a very chilly November morning on the Humber Bridge to turn the iconic structure into one giant work of art.

“I think my main recollection of the day was it was freezing! I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my life, but it’ll be worth it to see the finished pictures,” says Rachel.

“The reason I did it was because I’d originally signed up for the Sea of Hull, but didn’t end up doing it – and I’ve regretted it ever since. I didn’t want to miss out again.”

“We had to meet in the Humber Bridge car park at 5.30am and were given a letter that corresponded to a spot across the length of the bridge. They even had us doing a Mexican wave at one point. I’ve certainly not done anything like that before.

“We did get to see some incredible things while we were there; like the sun breaking over the Humber and a swooping peregrine falcon.”

During 2017 KCOM, which was a Principal Partner for UK City of Culture, supplied more volunteers than any other partner, with 33 willing recruits working more than 1,400 hours at events.

KCOM customer service team manager Roxanne Rose was one of those volunteers, spending the past 12 months engaged in a huge array of cultural activities.

As well as guiding art lovers around the Turner Prize at the Ferens Gallery, she volunteered at the Freedom Festival, Paper City, the Philip Larkin exhibition and Queen’s Gardens ballet events.

For The Big Picture she also braved the icy temperatures on the Humber Bridge as well as taking part in a giant semaphore display on the rooftop car park at St Stephen’s shopping centre.

“I think a lot of the success of the year has been down to the volunteers because without them a lot of the events just wouldn’t have been able to happen,” she says.

“The Big Picture is about celebrating the volunteers and everything they’ve contributed. Just to be part of the legacy of 2017; to be in an exhibition instead of showing people around one is a wonderful thing to be a part of. I hope people will still be looking back at these photos in a hundred years’ time and seeing what we did.”

KCOM’s resident thespian and volunteer Georgina Garton, who played the title role of Lillian Bilocca in the Jubilee Centre’s 2017 production of Lil, will also be featured in The Big Picture.

 “From start to finish, even in the freezing cold there was a real sense of pride and achievement, which I’ll never forget,” she says.

“I also took part in the Who We Are project, being photographed with possessions which summed me up. We were placed on the floor with our objects placed around us, and the photographer took his picture from above looking down on us.

“My chosen items included family photos, a microphone, sequin clothing and my Ghostbusters postcard, from the Hollywood Icons project I took part in at the start of 2017. I thought my items were quite tame in comparison to some … especially the guy with the tent!”

For more information about The Big Picture click here.

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