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South Blockhouse to feature art installations celebrating its history

Plans for the future of the South Blockhouse will feature site-specific art installations celebrating the stories of Hull’s ancient monument.

A decision record published today, Monday 15 January 2024, confirms the appointment of two artists, Adele Howitt and Bettina Furnee, who have been commissioned to develop artworks for the South Blockhouse visitor attraction.

Their work will increase public awareness of the site and engage communities with its heritage. The artworks will enhance visitors’ experience of the site and offer new ways to discover and explore the stories of the South Blockhouse.

The South Blockhouse project will conserve and enhance the scheduled ancient monument, improve public access and awareness of its heritage, and develop a new visitor attraction that enhances the city’s existing heritage offer.

Councillor Paul Drake-Davis, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: “The South Blockhouse project will help write another chapter in Hull’s wonderful, maritime history.

“The wire mesh structures intended to represent the original Blockhouse walls are one aspect that gives visitors an idea of its mass and scale, but equally important are the stories that will be told about the lives of people who used these buildings over the three centuries it stood guarding the east bank of the river Hull.

“These artists will help to enrich this storytelling experience, and this is something I am looking forward to.”

Hull-based artist Adele Howitt specialises in devising creative links from research gathered from people, places, heritage, landscape, museum collections and archives, to all sorts of sites and spaces. She works in high streets, hospitals, museums, galleries and libraries, and has been involved in place-making both on the inside of buildings and outside spaces. Her works may manifest as ceramic sculptures or installations, or as permanent parts of the public realm. 

Adele’s past projects include ‘Potter about Hornsea’, a public realm art trail with ceramic art and sculptures celebrating the historic and world famous Hornsea Pottery, it includes art on roundabouts, bus stops, pavements and poetry in the park.

Adele Howitt, said: “As a designer and maker, I am interested in the local identity and how the specific environment combined with its history, is expressed, explored, and celebrated. I am interested in how the creative intervention may be a tool to instil aspiration, bring people, heritage, and landscape together, offer community ownership, inspire, and engage.”

Bettina Furnee specialises in multi-disciplinary art practice which includes text-based installation, print, moving image, performance and public art. Her site site-specific works are a response to the history or narrative of a certain place; she often develops her work from source material contributed by local participants – through interviews, language games or polling – blending a multitude of voices from the community.

Her previous work includes “Near Holme, Call Your Home Poetic”, a project with households on a new Milton Keynes housing development, inviting residents to create a poetic and personal house name plaque, documented through an exhibition, film and events.

Also, “Live Neutral Earth”, was a public art scheme for Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire, consisting of audio-visual compositions presented as soundworks and painted sound-waves on the infrastructure of a new roadThe scheme also included a new community orchard, with orchard fruit recipes on the picnic tables.

A programme of artist commissions runs throughout the Hull Maritime project, which includes the extensive improvement works to Queens Gardens, North End Shipyard and Hull Maritime Museum.

The South Blockhouse Project has been made possible by feasibility funding from National Highways, who have Government funding to deliver benefits to communities above and beyond maintaining and operating England’s strategic road network. The project, worth around £1.25m in total, is being put forward for a further £1m in funding for the design and delivery.

National Highways manages four designated funds, allocated by the Government, to deliver benefits above and beyond building, maintaining and operating England’s strategic roads.

Find out more information on National Highways’ designated funds.

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