She appeared unannounced and set to work on her latest art installation in the heart of Hull’s Fruit Market – conducting her work in an empty glass-fronted property in Humber Street as passers-by gazed in.
Globally renowned urban contemporary artist Laurence Vallières began her work on Saturday morning, with her sudden appearance in the building opposite Butler Whites restaurant a mystery to onlookers as she began work on her live art installation, which will continue throughout this week.
The Art of Protest Gallery in York has revealed that the Montreal-based artist has been commissioned to visit Hull during her first UK residency, as she was keen to display her work during the UK City of Culture celebrations.
Her visit has been sponsored by Hudgell Solicitors, which has its headquarters on the Fruit Market, near Humber Street, and is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Hudgell Solicitors to launch community support project following completion of art installation
Hudgell Solicitors says it has been ‘inspired’ by the cultural feel to Hull in 2017, and it is to mark the completion of the artwork on Friday by launching a ‘major new community project’ through The Neil Hudgell Trust.
That new project, it says, will link directly to the piece of work, which is centred on the issue of homelessness.
As a classically trained fine artist, Vallières has found a gap in the market for easy to display and playful sculptural works that can engage in any setting, creating massive, often life-sized sculptures of animals out of recycled cardboard.
After completing an artist residency in Russia, she began to develop a street art influence in her work. Mainly using cardboard, she readily creates large works on the spot and travels internationally to do so.
Her installations have been commissioned for cities and galleries around the world including in Korea, Spain, Russia, U.S.A, Canada, Germany, France, and The Burning Man Festival Nevada.
Her current visit to Hull sees her create her first publicly displayed installation in the UK outside of an art fair setting and follows her appearance at the Moniker Art Fair’s 8th edition at the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch last week, the UK’s main Urban Contemporary Art showcase.
Artwork begins to take shape – with an elephant in the room
Exact details of what her installation have not been revealed, other than confirmation that she is working on a ‘major cardboard installation evoking the protective power of the collective, in the form of a family group, toward confronting the social inequality of homelessness.’
Speaking ahead of her visit, she said: “As an artist, one’s goal must be to express what is common and mundane in a way that makes it interesting and novel.
My work is greatly inspired by literature from the authors Georges Orwell and Art Spiegelman. Their deft use of metaphor allowed them to critique an issue or philosophy without explicitly stating the target of their anger. This use of metaphor gave their work the feel of a widely-circulated, savage inside joke. Similarly, I create art that maintains both visual appeal and an understated sense of humour.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Neil Hudgell Trust, is hoping the week-long live art project will create a buzz as her installation becomes more apparent.
“It is fair to say the City of Culture year has been a huge success for the city, and with Hudgell Solicitors being based in the Fruit Market, we have been fortunate to be close to so many great events and see the buzz created day to day,” she said.
“It has certainly inspired us, and when we heard of this opportunity to bring a globally renowned artist to the city, we jumped at the chance.
“Laurence’s work is about symbolising human relationships, communication, political issues and social behaviour, and her installation in Hull has a close link to plans we have to do more in the community through The Neil Hudgell Trust, which will be announced at the end of the week.
“Passers-by this weekend will have already noticed an elephant in the room. That is significant.
“Like the aim from 2017, we are also hoping to create something of a legacy on the back of this week, so it is very exciting.”
York art gallery delighted to help bring project to Hull
Craig Humble, Founder and Director of The Art of Protest Gallery, said: “This is a very exciting project we have been delighted to work with Hudgell Solicitors on for the people of Hull.
“There is anticipation that the interest in, and value of, Laurence’s work is to rise as galleries, museums and collectors search for alternative dimensional approaches to urban culture and street art. Her audience is varied as she works in a very large and impressive scale for installations, while still creating beautiful gallery pieces for buyers who don’t have a sculpture garden.
“Laurence is a strong emerging contemporary force and is very excited to be exhibiting in Hull in the UK City of Culture year, and to be highlighting such an important issue.”
The art installation is being created from recycled materials supplied by Art of Protest Gallery, and the space in which she is based has been made available by Wykeland Beal, the joint venture company formed by Wykeland Group and Beal Homes to drive forward the regeneration of the Fruit Market, working in partnership with Hull City Council.
Tom Watson, Development Surveyor of Wykeland Group, speaking on behalf of Wykeland Beal, said: “We were approached by Hudgell Solicitors who were looking for a venue for the installation and we were delighted to assist.
“The Fruit Market is acknowledged as a hub of creativity and innovation, so this is the perfect location for this exciting and intriguing project. We’re sure visitors to Humber Street will be fascinated to see Laurence at work and her creation taking shape.”