A Family’s Journey Through Hull’s Old Town

Published: Tuesday 11th April 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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A beautiful exhibition of paintings by local artist Shirley Goodsell is on display at Hull History Centre.

A Family’s Journey Through Hull’s Old Town is Shirley’s aim to “give a voice to the generations of people who lived, died and worshipped there.”

The works depicts Hull’s historic heart of trade. Stretching back decades, she tells a personal tale of growing up in the city, from barges on the Old Harbour to meeting family for a catchup.

Each piece is accompanied by a memory of the place, focusing on anything from industry to identity.

Below are some examples, along with the stories that you really must read in order to get a full feel for the inspiration behind them.

Number 7 Warehouse from Humber Dock

“As a child I loved to climb onto the steep loading bays and jump down in a heap onto York Stone pavement. I remember having cold feet in wet shoes and thin clothes on!”

These types of memories are surely shared by us all. Perhaps you didn’t climb around this particular setting, but chances are you played as a child whilst walking with family through the Old Town.


Two Barges on the River Hull


“The two barges dominate the canvas with such a medley of industrial shapes, e.g. twisting earthy ropes contrasting with the solid metal and vertical funnels.”

“Their shapes are solid and heavy with evidence of much wear and tear. They remind me of two grand old river dames who have seen better days.”

Shirley’s approach to the scenes and her whimsical musings really add a depth to the exhibition. They take a keen power of observation and infuse it with a light humour and charm.

Princes Dock with St. John’s Church


“I enjoyed painting this picture because growing up I always enjoyed the play of light on water.”

“The barges are waiting for the bridge to open and allow them through to Humber Dock and then the Humber.”

This piece’s description goes on to tell how a family member was married in the church, which was later demolished for the construction of the Ferens Art Gallery.

Little snippets like this can have a large impact. Next time you visit the Ferens, take a moment to think about all of the people who tied the knot on that piece of land many decades ago.

Warehouse 18, River Hull


“The stillness of the day is mirrored in the reflections in the water and the northern sky above the warehouse roofs.”

“The state of the windows I think show its gradual decline as a thriving business.”

Shirley captures familiar places in Hull in unfamiliar conditions, with the journey coming to an end in the 1970s.

Today, these old or converted warehouses back the Museums Quarter, which hosts exciting activity throughout the year. In this area you’ll also find the Arctic Corsair, one of Hull’s two floating museums.

A Family’s Journey Through Hull’s Old Town is free to view at Hull History Centre until 30 April. It then moves to Holy Trinity from 3-15 May and concludes its tour at Central Library from 18-30 May.

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Published: Tuesday 11th April 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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