Artist delves into Hull’s rich archives for new exhibition

Books and items buried deep in the archives of Hull Libraries will be the focus of a new exhibition delving into the city’s rich history.

The Stacks: Bodies of Work opens at Hull Central Library on Saturday 20 November, highlighting hidden reference collections of Hull Libraries and examining hidden archives of literature, records, surveys and maps.

The exhibition is the culmination of a six-month arts and research residency project with visual-media artist, Matt Fratson.

Matt said: “Having been interested in collections and archives for a long time within my practice, this residency presented a great opportunity to investigate a series of amazing ‘hidden’ spaces at Hull Central Library, and share my discoveries with the wider public.

“Hull Libraries, James Reckitt Library Trust, Rebecca Binnington and the generous and mega-supportive janitors team have been an absolute joy to work with, and the project felt like a true collaboration from the very start.”

Hull Central Library archives.

“I hope that visitors find material within the exhibition that resonates with them personally, their experiences of living in and around the city, and also that it presents something transformative in the way that we understand the rich depth and long history of our unique library services.

“The vast reference collections held at Central Library are a treasure trove, and collectively form a remarkable story that details our shared cultural history of at least the past few hundred years.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “This exhibition will shine a light on some of the hidden items and collections from our rich archives at Hull Libraries.

“The exhibition explores how our past can so often shape our future, as well as showing how we can learn from our history to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

The exhibition includes material from the early 19th century through to the mid-20th century. It includes collections related to medicine, public health and the human body.

The Stacks: Bodies of Work presents material from decades and centuries ago, but connects them to current day themes and issues.

Rebecca Binnington, librarian at Hull Libraries, said: “I am fascinated by the development of stacks and how we manage collections, hidden from the view of the public-facing library. The Stacks: Bodies of Work allowed us to investigate how narratives, present due to the historical nature of the stacks, have been developed over the years.

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate how the historical is still relevant today and links through to current concerns uncovering these connections to the public.”

The Hull Libraires project was supported by the James Reckitt Library Trust.

The free exhibition will be on display at Hull Central Library from Saturday 20 November until Saturday 11 December.

It will also be exhibited at Bransholme Library and Greenwood Library from Monday 22 November until Monday 13 December.

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