Bankside Gallery Hull, 9 N Church Side, Hull, HU1 1RP – Visit Now
Bankside Gallery Hull isn’t a single building, but a sprawling, outdoor exhibition space for Hull’s street artists; a scattered collection of walls, doors and underpasses that are legal to graffiti on, as well as surfaces volunteered by businesses as canvases for special commissions. Mainly to the north of the city centre, and concentrated along the River Hull, the locations are pinned on the Bankside Gallery Hull map – the artwork at each one constantly evolving. With artists travelling nationally and internationally to contribute to the gallery, including from Hungary, Chile and Italy, murals can get ‘hit’ or ‘bombed’ with new work within days.
The result is an ever-changing spectacle, a variable backdrop for walking tours, school trips and visitors. All of which started the month after Hull’s year as Capital of Culture, with the overnight appearance of a Banksy artwork in the city. Stencilled onto a permanently raised bridge, the mural of a young boy riding another artist’s tag as though to victory – wielding a sword above his head and with the words ‘DRAW THE RAISED BRIDGE’ painted next to him – was claimed by the artist on instagram shortly after it was discovered. It’s arrival caused a small frenzy, and the idea for the Bankside Gallery was born: this was a way to transform more walls in the area, and to convert the very localised public interest into money being spent at the surrounding businesses.
The Bankside Gallery was also a way to create parity between the excitement at the work of this particular artist, and the more mixed reception of graffiti elsewhere in the city. It drew attention to Hull’s long street art subculture, which has its roots in the 1980s, became nationally known in the 1990s, and has been hidden in plain sight ever since. After installation, Banksy’s work was defaced, salvaged by a window cleaner, and eventually removed for preservation when the bridge it was painted on was scheduled for demolition. The Bankside Gallery, meanwhile, lives on – freely accessible, changeable, and a celebration of a rich seam of creativity in the city.