Beyond Words shares a world of freedom and movement

Published: Wednesday 12th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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The current exhibition at Hull Central Library focuses on the issues of slavery, colonialism, sex, gender and freedom.

Beyond Words is curated by Book Works and displays pieces by Helen Cammock, Hannah Dawn Henderson and Lubaina Himid.

The collection presents the idea of freedom as part of a process of public dialogue, ongoing struggle, and a celebration of the difference an artist can make to society.

Whilst some of the works are vibrant and full of colour, others take the form of printed literature, black and white photography and gritty wall projections.


Himid’s works are part of her Freedom Kangas series, inspired by clothing, traditions and styles from the Zanzibar of her youth.

She is a Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, and her own art revolves around cultural history and reclaiming identities.

She was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s, with her current pieces continuing to reflect these activist roots.


Meanwhile, Henderson’s pieces from her series Being, in a State of Erasure have strong socio-political tones.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Arts in the Netherlands, she is an artist and writer based in Manchester and The Hague.

Henderson combines political writings with personal experiences to create images that show the tension and passion behind people’s causes.


Last but not least we have Cammock, a researcher who studies how communities can open up and close down.

She is fascinated by Hull being a gateway to Europe and a historical passage for migrants, yet overwhelmingly voting for Brexit last year.

The artist encourages the viewer to hear the voices from Hull’s history and reassess what it means to be free. Her work combines photography, poetry and video to share a strong ethos.


The three artists’ works are quite different in style, especially Himid’s, yet complement each other perfectly.

As soon as you enter the exhibition space from the cafe, you get an immediate feel for the messages behind the content.

Some of the works are cold and raw, whereas others are rich and friendly. However, each one celebrates freedom, identity, location and community, whilst warning against right wing sentiment and closed-minded thinking.


We definitely recommend a visit to Hull Central Library to see Beyond Words, and we especially recommend that you take your time.

Alongside the photographs and paintings are display cases of literature, wall projections and audio works. By investing a few extra minutes, you can achieve a deeper understanding of our city’s social tapestry.

The exhibition also displays the three artists’ books, which delve even further into cultural history, migration, and the impact of individuals on society and vice versa.

Beyond Words is an eye-opening account of how Hull got to where it is today, from an international port and a place shaped by the world, to the UK City of Culture for 2017. The exhibition runs until Thursday 27 April.

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Published: Wednesday 12th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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