Sea of Hull: My experience getting nude with 3,200 strangers in public.
This month saw acclaimed photographer and artist Spencer Tunick grace our shores to create one of his famous nude photography pieces. A few of our braver team members, Copywriter, Poppy Collier and Art Director, Lewis Beedham, took part in the event. Poppy shares with us how she found the event in her own words:
On the 9th of July in the early hours, 3,200 people stripped off, painted themselves different shades of blue and posed collaboratively for photographs in different areas of Hull City Centre. I was lucky enough to be one of those people.
It had just been announced on BBC breakfast, that Spencer Tunick had been commissioned by the Ferens Art Gallery, to organise one of his famous nude art installations. At work that day, without really knowing much about it apart from the fact that I would have to be nude outdoors with hundreds of others, I signed up. It’s not really the type of opportunity that comes knocking on your doorstep very often, so it had to be done!
The day arrives, it’s 3:15AM and I’m stood with fellow yesyesBD team mate and Art Director Lewis Beedham, at the registration point. We were given a number, a pot of paint and a see through plastic bag for our dignity. The crowd was much larger than I was expecting and there was a great sense of anticipation in the air, which seemed to have got the better of some of the more eager participants and prompted event organisers to repeat, “Please, remain clothed and do not paint yourself until instructed.”
The waiting part definitely brought about excitement and when it was finally announced that we could now undress and get painting, I couldn’t get over how thrilled people where to whip their clothes off and lather paint all over their bodies. The atmosphere during that time is hard put into words, everyone was giggling and chatting amongst themselves asking “Are my legs covered?” and “Can you get my back?”. I remember a rather voluptuous woman walking around proudly announcing “I need more paint! Has anyone got more paint?”. Everyone’s inhibitions went out the window and people just got stuck in.
We were directed by Spencer, first in Queens Gardens, then Parliament St, Guild Hall and finishing on Scale Lane Bridge. I have to say after hearing him speak earlier that morning, I was surprised at what a creative diva he became when directing his shoots. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t afraid to let his team know about it! He was great.
It became apparent that, team member, Steve was Spencer’s right hand man and he seemed to be the favourite for Spencer’s sharp tongued directions. “Steve I need more people, down here. STEVE! STEVE! I need more people, why are you not moving them!” This was quickly picked up on by the crowd and every time Spencer called Steve’s name. 3,200 people in unicen, echoed a very northern and elongated ”Steveeeeeeeee”. A personal highlight of the morning.
Performing different poses in each of the locations, some rather painful ones where we had to lay on the concrete, the nakedness lasted longer than I had anticipated. We were originally told that we would only be nude for a short amount of time. But, I tell you now, there is nothing short about 3 hours when it’s a cool July morning and you have nothing but blue paint to keep you warm. Apart from the minor discomforts of the morning, it was an experience that I cannot talk about enough. The atmosphere and sense of community shared, is only one that is present when your nude, blue and freezing your tits off in the middle of Hull city centre. I would recommend anyone to do it, it truly was an experience of a lifetime!