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Hull’s historic Whitefriargate to come alive as part of new sound installation



A new immersive soundwalk for Hull’s Whitefriargate will help people rediscover the magic of the historic thoroughfare this month.

Artist Jez riley French has created a soundwalk, Breet Velvit Ake (‘bright velvet wander’ in the Yorkshire dialect), evoking Whitefriargate’s complex social, cultural and physical history.

The installation will form part of  this year’s Heritage Open Days from 10-19 September.

Whitefriargate is benefiting from a multi-million pound regeneration project.

The soundwalk will include a fascinating range of hidden, overlooked or usually inaudible sounds on Whitefriargate. These include plants growing in a drainpipe drawing moisture through their roots, electronic signals from shop signs, security systems and mobile phones and the earth spinning on its axis beneath the street.

Jez riley French, said: “We often give such narrow attention to our city streets, thinking of them only as rows of shops or other businesses, but they’re more than that. We need to own them again, to use them as social and cultural spaces, and actively listen to them.”

Historic England has been working with the National Trust and Sound UK to bring hidden histories to life across six High Street Heritage Action Zones. The soundwalk in Whitefriargate is part of a series of self-guided, immersive experiences taking listeners on a journey of discovery.

Councillor Rosemary Pantelakis, portfolio holder for culture at Hull City Council, said: “Whitefriargate is full of character, history and culture – so it will provide the perfect backdrop for this installation. The historic street is one of the most recognisable and much-loved places in our city and it’s fantastic to see projects such as this celebrating the area.”

Jez riley French’s piece is one of six new individual soundwalk experiences from the High Street Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme. Photo credit: Pheobe Riley Law.

Listeners will take a self-guided route, supported by an illustrated map, at their own pace. High Street Sound Walks are available via the Historic England website from 10 September. Visitors can listen any time via their smartphone or other personal device. Find out more here.

Ellen Harrison, head of creative programmes and campaigns, Historic England, said: “We hope this soundwalk will enable people to slow down, pause and reflect, and to experience their familiar environment in a new way. The audio experience aims to connect listeners with the hidden sounds of Whitefriargate, transforming the everyday into something enlightening and new.”

High Street Sound Walks is a commission by Historic England, National Trust and Heritage Open Days with support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and produced by Sound UK. It is part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, which aims to make high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

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