Choose your future
CHOOSE Life. CHOOSE a design. CHOOSE a colour. CHOOSE a font. CHOOSE a f*****g shit filter. CHOOSE to hashtag your food, your lass, your dog, yourself. CHOOSE what you consume, fatty foods, booze & cigarettes CHOOSE high-interest pay-day loans. CHOOSE to never pay back student loans. CHOOSE to sign on. CHOOSE what to wear and when. CHOOSE not to work in a dead end, 9-5 job. CHOOSE to follow your dreams. CHOOSE to follow your passion. CHOOSE not to spend most of your time making a living whilst not being able to live the life you work for. CHOOSE not to let other people tell you it won't work. CHOOSE to live the way you want to. CHOOSE to be independent. Your time is limited, so don't waste it on someone else's LIFE....
PRINT ISSUE 2:
FEATURING INDEPENDENT MUSIC & CREATIVE ARTS IN HULL
Assemble Fest 16 is supported by Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
ERE H CE WECT IT N A P ORMST EX F R PE LEA U O Y ETS O P R RNE EDGE O C E PUB N TH ATRE O THE E THE ATR THE COLILY GIRLS C G BRO OARIN E R ATR E E H H T T LOW HILD L E B C DLE D I M
Y A D 6 R U SATAY 201.UK M . CO T S 8TH MBLEFE 2016
. AS WW
Image by Bluebeany
ND A L NEWNUE, AVELL HU
BR WSE Browse is a free, independent, cross-platform music, creative arts and cultural lifestyle magazine. This issue documents and celebrates the work of independent creatives in Hull.
INDEPENDENT MUSIC 4,5,6 - LIFE 7,8,9 - INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOPS
A-Z OF CULTURE IN HULL 11,12,13 - AMY JOHNSON
INDEPENDENT ARTIST 16,17 - DANIEL R MITCHELL 18 - DIY ARTSPACE - GROUND GALLERY
INDEPENDENT STREET FOOD 20,21 - A STORY OF DOPEBURGER
INDEPENDENT THEATRE 23,24,25 - MIDDLECHILD
INDEPENDENT FILM 26,27 - HULL INDEPENDENT CINEMA
Created by: Mike White Edited by: Sam Hawcroft Layout by: Steve Newsome Illustrations: Calvin Innes Paper provided in affiliation with G . F Smith
Contributors: Nix Childlow, Rich Sharp Wilson Paul Newbon, Chris Pepper, Nick Boldock Jesse Williams, Sydell Ann Brigden Ian Judson
For submissions & advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org
@browsemag @browsemagazine_ /browsemagazinehull
browsema g azine.co.uk
LIFE, are a band of black-clad brothers who tear through the night with razor-sharp vocals and a ferocious sound. A modern punk band that have gained success while still maintaining the mantra of Do It Yourself. The band features leading man Mez, his lyrical and blood brother Mick on guitar, Loz on bass, and Stew on drums. Between them they create compositions, which emit a reflection of modern society, cutting no corners and getting down to the barefaced grit of reality. Underdogs from an underdog city, they have secured themselves a fruitful reputation on national radio stations, with 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq championing recent singles Go Go Go and Popular Music and Radio 1’s Huw Stephens picking them as one of the breakthrough bands of 2016. They’ve performed across the country, securing a place on the BBC Introducing stage at two significant festivals last year, and are set to continue tearing strips into the country as they say it just how it is. A LIFE set is fuelled by their sheer determination and indispensable energy. If you haven’t already experienced it, sort your life out and get down to a LIFE gig – any LIFE gig
Nix Chidlow met up with Mez to discuss the band’s influences and aims for the future:
It’s been quite the uphill rollercoaster for the band in the last year. How would you summarise 2016 so far for LIFE? 2016 so far has been awesome: we came right out of the blocks and announced our follow up to break out single GoGoGo with Popular Music. It’s destroyed the radio. You’ve recently done a run of gigs as part of Independent Venue Week. What did you enjoy most during this week? Bloody hell where can I start with Independent Venue Week!! Firstly I have to say it’s one of the best charities you can support as an artist, music lover and gig goer. Seriously, if you like real music, then you need to check out all the things IVW do. They are run by one of the most giving, caring, and inspirational people I have ever come across within the industry (Hi Sybil). Secondly, as a DIY band who have carved out a path in such a brand-heavy, cannibalistic industry, ignoring Independent Venue Week would be a big fuck up as we share a great affinity with their philoso-
phy, given its emphasis on the spirit of independence and the importance of live music. Doing it yourself is the core of our fucking DNA. The best part of the tour, as always, was visiting the different cities, there’s summat romantic about briefly visiting a place, seeing it through drunken eyes and mixing with people that genuinely love music as much as we do. We were also delivering workshops throughout the week at music and community colleges, sharing our experiences of being an unsigned band doing it properly. It’s important to support young people and explain how it’s possible to get big radio coverage and marquee shows without a label behind you. I can tell ya it’s hard work but it is possible, and it was great talking about this to young artists and musically-centred people who maybe have a sugar coated image of how the industry works. Also bringing our mate Steve Lamacq to Hull was bloody brilliant! We saw Lammo in London a week before the tour announcement and we were like ‘the Adelphi show is gonna be massive, man’. And it was: we hit capacity within 24 hours. What you going to do? Hull punks 4 lyf. If you could play any independent venue this year which venue would you choose?
Definitely Hebden Bridge Trades Club, in beautiful West Yorkshire: between Manchester and Leeds is Hebden Bridge, the Vegetarian capital of the UK. It’s full of crusty beatniks and 6 Music DJ’s. The trades club is great and has recently had some excellent bookings from Fat White Family to Laura Marling. If there was a piece of literature that you return to for inspiration what would it be? Mick is big time into Murakami, soft porn and Spiderman, and I like more clichéd stuff like Burroughs, Mary Berry’s Cookbook and Bret Easton-Ellis. I also have
a soft spot for Ted Hughes. I guess if there was one thing, for an instant fix that I needed to read, it would be Funhouse by Charles Bukowski (check it out). What are your favourite Pizza toppings and what drink would you have with your pizza? Mick – Garlic Margarita with olive and mushroom. Gotta be lager, nothing heavy something crisp and light to cut through the grease. Maybe a Sol. Mez – Garlic Margarita with fresh chillies and basil. Birra Moretti and a shot of vodka. Loz – At least two types of rare pig meat with a black crust and
a glass of bull’s blood to wash it down. Stew – Stinky Cheese and a Brooklyn Beer. What is it that keeps the band driving forward? To prove to everyone that LIFE are real. We won’t stop. Jürgen Klopp. So what else does 2016 hold for LIFE (and LIFE fans)? If I told you everything I would have to kill you. @lifebanduk @ lifeband / lifebanduk
GOURMET BURGERS - GOURMET HOTDOGS - CHIPS - DRINKS
13 ,UNIT 2, ANLABY ROAD, HULL
07884 552426 @dopeburgerltd @dopeburgerltd Dope-Burger-Hull Wagwan-Chicken-dopestreetfood
So… the oft quoted “vinyl revival” – everyone’s heard about it, haven’t they? With a massive two million vinyl albums sold in the UK in 2015, it’s hardly surprising that the black stuff is big news at the moment – and that impressive sales figure doesn’t include the huge second-hand market, centred on independent stores, markets, car boots, charity shops and of course, those “wellknown online auction sites” we all know and love… Hull may have lost some of its legendary vinyl emporia from years gone by – doff your caps to the likes of Star disc, Sydney Scarborough, Regis, Sheridan’s, Bolder’s Record Bar and countless others – but look around and you will still find a surprising number of record shops around our fair city. All of them will welcome you with open arms, whether you are a seasoned vinyl junkie or a novice buyer looking to explore the rich sound of vinyl for the very first time. Here, Browse takes a look at Hull’s independent record shops and finds out how the “vinyl revival” is helping to grow and support a booming market in the best and most treasured of all music formats…
Words By Nick Boldock
e s t of B
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SPIN IT RECORDS
SOUND SYSTEM RECORDS
Situated in a quiet and charming area of Trinity Market (close to the entrance to Hepworth’s Arcade), Spin-It has been trading since 1995. Owner Steve Mathie has seen the vinyl revival unfold first-hand – “I saw the interest in records going up five years ago, and bought in some brand-new vinyl, which sold very well. Back then the average age of my customers was about 45 – now it must be about 27!”
The newest of Hull’s record shops, Sound System is run by Funky wormhole’s John Peters and has been open for business since 2015.
What’s the best thing about running a record shop? For me this is the best job in the world – I love it. No two days are the same – my customers are great and they teach me so much about records! I started with just 500 LPs and 400 singles and now have about 25,000 LPs and 30,000 singles in stock.
We asked John about the vinyl revival. “I’ve seen a definite change in people’s attitudes. We now receive so many positive comments from customers saying ‘everyone knows vinyl is the best sound’ or whatever, whereas it used to be really negative and I’d hear ‘I can’t believe you still buy records when you can get the tunes for free online’… it’s a big change. The shop is like a big DJ record bag – loads of different genres and styles from reggae and Northern soul to old-skool rave and punk, plus 80s stuff, jazz, disco and blues…
What are people buying these days?
What are people asking for these days?
I sell a lot of Northern Soul 7” singles. And rock is big in Hull – the 70s classics like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Pink Floyd – they just fly out.
House, disco and Northern soul.
Where? Trinity Market, Hull, HU1 2JH
Where? 8A Bowlalley Lane, Hull, HU1 1XR
Where else can you buy vinyl ?
e s t of
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My F and -
BIRDS NEST RECORDS
Now in its 25th year of trading, Disc Discovery is as well known for its huge stocks of vinyl (not to mention CDs, DVDs and memorabilia) as it is for its memorable signage, which features the face of Kiss mainstay Gene Simmons, makeup and all. Little surprise then that owner Darren Crowther has a substantial selection of rock vinyl and says himself that “we sell more rock than anything – it’s never been in fashion but it always sells!”
Bird’s Nest is a record shop with a difference – for a start, it is a “pop up” shop that can open in a number of locations, though the shop can be regularly found at the Made And Sold In Hull market which takes place in and around Fruit on the third Sunday of every month. Having first appeared there in 2013, they are now the market’s longest-serving trader. “We did Fruit”, says owner Paul Bird, “and then we were asked to do a stall at Freedom Festival – and it went from there!”
Visitors to Disc Discovery will know that rock music is only part of the picture… Darren says: “I stock a large range of genres and I love seeing what people bring in to sell – not just the usual stuff like Oasis, The Clash, Bowie, Zep… but also Northern soul, hip hop and dance…” Disc Discovery is a real Aladdin’s cave of musical delights and with a truly colossal amount of stock, is sure to have something to cater for anyone’s tastes.
Where? 53 Spring Bank, Hull, HU3 1AG G.O. Records 30 Cottingham Road Minster Records 9 Eastgate, Beverley Dove House 432 Beverley Road
Paul is well-known among the local record collecting fraternity and prides himself on his friendly reputation – “I like to think we offer a personal service, no matter what your taste in music might be. We have records priced from 10p up to over a hundred quid, and if I haven’t got what you need I’ll try and source it, or I’ll even point people to other record shops.” Where? Find Paul at Fruit and the summer festivals, and a smaller version of Bird’s Nest appears at The Speak Easy (Furley & Co, Sunday afternoons) where Paul also spins classic vinyl in-between the acoustic acts. Hull Hull Hull
HU6 7RA HU17 0DR HU5 1LP
July & August 2016
A summer festival celebrating Hullâ€™s aviation heroine For full details of the Festival Programme visit amyjohnsonfestival.co.uk Sign up to our Mailing List for latest programme news
Exhibitions Music Parkour Films A Moth for Amy Dance Aviation Fashion
Workshops Outdoor Arts Engineering Kites Spectacle Lectures Education Theatre
It is timely that Hull’s aviation heroine Amy Johnson is being celebrated during 2016. Not only is this year the 75th anniversary of her death, but the build-up to next year’s City of Culture is gathering pace, while the future for the city’s engineering industry looks bright as Siemens continues to recruit more than 1,000 jobs at its new wind turbine plant at Alexandra Dock. The Amy Johnson Festival aims to raise awareness of the Hull-born aviator’s achievements as an engi-
neer and as a woman of her time. It promises to be a unique marriage between science and culture, using art, music, theatre, sculpture and poetry both to open up new opportunities for the city’s creative artists, and also to encourage young women to consider engineering and the sciences as career choices. This year’s celebration is not before time – to date, even though Johnson is well-recognised as one of Hull’s most famous and beloved cultural icons, the two main ‘tributes’ to
her have been a statue outside the Prospect Centre that looks like it’s made out of soap, and a school that was arguably known more for its expulsion rate than its educational excellence before it finally closed in 2001. Hopefully the Amy Johnson Festival will redress the balance, and a new generation will be inspired by her vision, determination and sense of adventure.
Words: Sam Hawcroft
Johnson was, of course, very much a woman in the man’s world of aviation in the early 20th century. In 1932, the year after her record-breaking flight to Australia, she said: “We women are just now on the threshold of another career which has so far been regarded as the strict province of man – that of aeronautical engineering.” More than 80 years on, how have things changed? There are more women in engineering nowadays, but they are still vastly outnumbered, and the industry is still seen as a male-dominated environment. If the renewed interest in Amy Johnson inspires more young women to apply for jobs at the Siemens development, or study for qualifications in the sciences, that would be an incredibly positive outcome. Art for science’s sake, if you will. But Johnson’s version of feminism was not just to tell women to shout as loud as the men; her approach was far more subtle. “To women who may sometimes feel they are not being given their dues I would like to say this: we should try not to start off in a spirit of resentfulness and aggression. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We argue and try to convince that we are just as good as any man and we are amazed when our belligerent tactics go unrewarded, when we fail to get the job and complain bitterly of inequality and injustice. Instead we should be first of all sure of ourselves on the technical side of the job and spend the rest of our energies putting ourselves over. Women are noted for talking. Well, remember that it is said that leadership gravitates to the man who can talk. Lowell Thom-
as once said in a speech – and how truly – that the man who can speak acceptably is usually given credit for an ability out of all proportion to what he possesses. You need not wait for an after dinner speech to try this out – try it at interviews.” Johnson did not hold back in her passionate views on equality, and her advice to other women was down-to-earth, and practical – typical Hull attributes, some would say. “The only argument,” said Johnson, “that men can bring forward against woman’s intrusion is that of
physical strength, but this seems to me very poor grounds for establishing and retaining a monopoly. After all, physical strength is purely relative – there are some women stronger than some men. In engineering there are many jobs beyond a man’s strength. What does he do? He fetches an instrument. What did I do when I found a job beyond my strength? At first I used to fetch a real
man engineer, and if he couldn’t do the job he’d fetch some tool that would. I soon learned that it saved time to fetch the tool right away.” One of the major themes of this year’s festival is ‘A Moth for Amy’, which is inspired by the series of light aircraft designed by Geoffrey de Havilland. He was a pioneering engineer, designer and manufacturer, and also a lepidopterist from a very early age. It was his passion for moths that led him to name many of his planes after the insects. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the Moths were the most common civil aircraft flying in Britain, and during that time every light aircraft flying in the UK was commonly referred to as a ‘Moth’, regardless if it was de Havilland-built or not. Amy Johnson famously flew to Australia in a second-hand Gipsy Moth that she called Jason, and flew several other Moths during her career. The festival organisers hope the Moths will have similar appeal to the Larkin Toads, which captured the public’s imagination in 2010. Like the Toads, the Moths are large fibreglass sculptures painted in colourful designs by a host of local artists, and they will be displayed at locations across Hull, and beyond, with the Moth Trail appearing from July 1 this year. The organisers said they had received almost 200 submissions from artists and, after much deliberation, they managed to shortlist them down to 130. The festival programme will also go into schools, exploring the main themes across many curriculum areas, but with a particular focus on
enthusing girls about careers in engineering. They surely will not fail to be inspired by Johnson’s drive and determination. To her, succeeding in a man’s world was about far more than just being able to do the same job. The very fight to be equal was character-building, as she once said: “I would say that women have such a struggle and uphill fight that by the time they have acquired the technical skill equal to a man’s, they have acquired something a great deal more valuable and of vast potential importance to their future employer – personality.” Through a series of major events, exhibitions and performances – such as Da Vinci Engineered, an exhibition that juxtaposes models of Leonardo da Vinci’s flight machines with works by contemporary artists; a new show by Hull’s Ensemble 52; a telematic music performance between Hull and Kurdistan; more than 12 new commissions re-telling Amy’s story for today’s media-savvy generation; and even a spectacular weekend of international kite-flying at Beverley Racecourse – this year’s festival aims to explore a host of wider themes. These include the role of modern commercial aviation, as well as reflections on culture, society and politics in 1930 – and how things may or may not have changed today. Johnson would no doubt have had strong opinions on modern technology; in the 1930s she said she found it “improbable” that man would ever succumb to “the machine”, adding that, “Human emotions will always
rise superior to any degree of mechanisation, and we must retain the machine as a servant to do ‘the chores’ of life, leaving us, freedom to leisure, pleasure and High Thought.” However, in this world of modern technology, it could be argued that many of us are still slaves to the machine – perhaps more so than ever before, as our computerised gadgets do our thinking for us. Engineering is about being one step ahead of this, though; engineers are the geniuses behind the technology we take for granted every day. There may indeed still be many barriers to women being equal in the industry today, but the barriers, obstacles and prejudice Johnson faced in the 1930s only served to fuel the fire of her determination. “Progress in aviation, as in every sphere, is due to the people who believe nothing to be impossible. The course of ease is to say it cannot be done. The sceptics actually do much to further progress – they hold a pistol at the head of the dreamer and the optimist, challenging them to bring their dreams to reality.” This year’s festival, which promises to be the perfect curtain-raiser to the 2017 City of Culture extravaganza, is certainly a challenge to artists and creators in Hull – here’s hoping it will leave a lasting legacy for both the arts and the sciences across the city. The quotes from Amy Johnson are taken from The Woman Engineer, the magazine of The Women’s Engineering Society, of which Johnson was president between 1935–1937.
“My flight was carried out for two reasons: because I wished to carve for myself a career in aviation, and because of my innate love of adventure”
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A balmy spring evening, I wandered into 80 Days Bier Haus to meet the artist Daniel R. Mitchell. An appropriate meeting spot, as DanielĘźs large scale canvas 5th Avenue has been causing quite a stir in the place since it was unveiled back in October. The 150cm x 150cm canvas filling one wall of the intimate bar on Princes Avenue, transports viewers to the rain swept streets of night-time New York. I mentioned to Daniel how IĘźve sat on more than one occasion and discussed the artwork with fellow drinkers. As we catch a couple sat only feet away, sipping on their drinks and chatting about the painting. By profession Daniel is a trainee architect, and spends much of his time working around the country. He also likes travel overseas, and explains that his artistic works are usually based on those travels. That they act as a snapshot, a travel diary represented in acrylics on canvas. Thus as an artist that uses his free-time seeking inspiration and developing his art, he feels more able to express in paint those significant memories he wishes to capture. Unconstrained by the pressures of delivering works to any time-scale but his own. He says how in the process of creating a work he may paint over a canvas multiple times, until it feels right, or even if a canvas is simply not working for him, scrap it altogether. There is an absolute sense of free flowing freedom of style in DanielĘźs works, that both juxtapose and compliment the straight lined rigidity of the urban landscapes he creates. Strong lines of perspective drawing the viewer down lamp-light doused streets, in search of illicit night-time urban adventures. Stunning representations of the exciting energy of dusky urban streets, and the life of the people who inhabit them, created in bold strokes of colour and dripping washes. Whether it be the streets of New York, Hull or any other cityscape, the desire to reach through the canvas and explore the world beyond is compelling. All of this belies a technique born of years of sketching his environment from an architectural perspective. Quickly being able to represent a vista in a matter of a few strokes of a pen, and thus capturing a moment on the fly for later contemplation. Daniel has made a significant impact of the art scene of Hull. Which is an impressive achievement for someone who first ventured into the art world in 2013, with a work entitled NYC Skyline. His work continues to act as a diary and representation of his creative expression and interests. Daniel is currently working towards his first public exhibition in 2016 and the painting 5th Avenue will be one of many pieces on show.
'West 23rd Street' By Daniel R Mitchell 17.01.16 950x950cm Acrylic on Canvas
'5th Avenue' By Daniel R Mitchell 02.08.15 150x150c m Acrylic on Canvas
'Spring Bank, Hull' By Daniel R Mitchell 27.03.16 50x50cm Acrylic on Canvas
'Princes Avenue', By Daniel R Mitchell 06.12.15, 150x150cm, Acrylic on Canvas
Words By: Richard Sharp Wilson You can follow Daniel and buy his prints on: Facebook (Daniel R Mitchell) and Instagram (DANIELRMITCHELL.ARTIST).
D.I.Y ARTSPACE: Finding the Grassroots at Ground By Rich Sharp Wilson The cultural underground of Hull was gently shaken to its very grassroots, when the art collective based at Ground on Beverley Road launched themselves onto the arts and culture scene back in January. Ground is an art gallery, zineshop, workshop space and artists’ studios. Launching with the Mammal Jam festival they reached out to the local community and welcome them in. And as Ground opened its doors to Hull, so the people who stepped over the threshold opened their hearts to Ground and welcomed them with open arms.
creative people. The place was alive with artists and activists not only from Hull, but Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol and Denmark. Even holding a live stream broadcast from a group of musicians in Norway’s Arctic Circle. Among the events were day time workshops and discussion groups, food provided by a “Found Food” collective. In the evening spoken word and music weaved itself with a buzz of lively conversation. Throw in an activist information stall and collaborative art-work for people to engage with, and leave their mark on, there was plenty to keep people entertained and coming back for more.
From a breathing new life into an old shop at 62 Beverley Road, Ground is becoming much more than a “hub bubbling under Over the 3 days of the the surface”. It is a place that is Mammal Jam festival the space bore building bridges into not only witness to an eclectic mix of its local community, but it has itself fairly and events attended by exuberant planted
squarely in the centre of underground arts, culture and activism in the city. A place for free thought and free expression, run by a group of young artists who bring a refreshing atmosphere of enthusiasm to everything they take on. Creating a safe collaborative space, that makes everyone feel welcome, and encourages them to explore their own creative quirks. When I spoke to the guys, about writing this article, they wanted to express their deepest thanks for the overwhelming support they were given both during Mammal Jam and since. The space is now being used regularly for workshops, gigs and events. They open to the public on Saturdays, 12pm to 5pm. So pop along, get involved, and be part of growing this grassroots space from the ground up. 60 Beverley Road, Hull FB/groundcollective
Words By Sydell Ann Brigden The older generation remembers rock, not pop, and heading up Anlaby Road, the destination of grime, for the synonymous ‘Tower for an hour’. Rock, not pop, has long gone and Tower is no longer, although the building remains and is now another nightclub. Then across the road Dope Burger appeared from nowhere and now is ablaze in Hull’s slowly but surely developing food culture. Steady as it goes, though, Hull’s food revival is destined to develop and become something quite unique, with Dope being firmly at the forefront of the burger trail.
bull by the horns. Dope has been open for a year now, with Johnson’s dream becoming a reality in April 2015, having turned his brand into something in-
Oliver Johnson, the owner of Dope Burger, is a likeable guy; a real breath of fresh air. Through some struggle to make the step up to chef, he decided to take the
stantly recognisable and in-demand. Avid fans know he’s not just stopping at burgers – his latest venture is Wagwan Chicken, in
Spring Bank West, alongside the prospect of more outside catering, so keep your eyes peeled for the next tasty adventures in Hull’s ever-growing Dope empire. Johnson has researched and travelled, which is always a good sign for someone working in food; his latest spree was to New York City. When I asked him if he found any sources of inspiration there, he said he discovered the perfect balance of umami. Being a foodie, I was curious to where he’d suggest eating in NYC – and Johnson recommended the backstreet pizza places. We’ve all seen the huge pizza slices in American films, so I am guessing that’s what he got. Don’t get me wrong, Dope has had its knocks – firstly for serving medium-done burgers; my thoughts are that if the meat is of high quality (I buy my meat from
@dopeburgerltd @dopeburgerltd Dope-Burger-Hull Wagwan-Chicken-dopestreetfood
the same butcher as Johnson, so I know it’s good) and the texture is there, then rare or medium is fine and tastes bloody good. It’s not a fast-food chain – these burgers are made with soul and love! Let me reiterate that the meat both I and Dope use is so fresh that it was in the field the week before, and that’s nothing to grumble at. But Johnson said he has to keep in line with the council, which, frankly, is a major disappointment. Although Johnson insists the burgers are just as good well-done, he still eats his own medium-rare. Dope Burger does honest food served well; and I regularly see my Facebook feed full of Dope Burger-related statuses. There is a lot to be said for people talking about how they’ve tried Dope Burger “at last” and “did you see that queue at Dope Burger?” and on and on. It’s a sure-fire sign that Dope is at the top of its game and has been for a long time. That’s a good sign to me and should be to you! Hull has trailed behind for way too long in what could be an amazing food culture. Johnson is a trailblazer among the many places popping up, though he makes burgers people actually want to eat; you’ll wait no more than 10 minutes for the burger you’ve dreamt of, and you’ll not be in a hurry to forget it either. I was in a bar recently and heard someone say to his friends sitting around a table, all having a few beers, “That bacon, though, that big thick bacon on that burger – Dope is the best.” I sat and smiled – they had no idea I was there and did not know I am a food writer. It was simply heartwarming to hear a group of guys drooling over Dope Burger, as they all sighed and agreed.
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Middle Child Theatre Company, which has been in existence for five years this year, continues to evolve and produce innovative theatre. Speaking to artistic director Paul Smith and producer Mungo Arney at the rehearsal space they work from, it is clear to see that the company wants to keep on challenging itself and its audience with its brand of award-winning theatre. How was the company set up – and where did the name come from? This question draws an immediate response from the effervescent artistic director: “It was formed after I had a conversation with Mike Bradwell, who formed the original Hull Truck. He came into our drama school, where I was studying at the time, to give us a talk – when I was wondering what to do at the time with my career and life in general. “Basically Mike gave this really great talk based on an article he’d written, which was encouraging young artists... How to make theatre and about how, in the political climate at the time, young people would have to take things in their own hands.”
Paul and Mungo both studied together at the University of Hull, and their theatre collaboration started after Paul sent an email around to other fellow graduates to ask what people were up to, and if they wanted to start something. “I stayed in Hull just as everybody else was coming back to Hull, and it was really exciting. To be honest, it was great for me because it was kind of, ‘I know what I’m going to do now’.” But how did the name come about? Paul explains: “It started as a political thing really. The work we do often has a socio-political edge to it, so it really began as a bit of political theatre, a bit like it was in the old days. The name itself came from the movie Fight Club, which started out as a novel, and there’s a quote in that which is actually on our website – it talks about our generation as the middle children of society – they had no great war, they had no great depression, they were promised they were going to be famous TV stars and movie stars growing up.” Middle Child has become one of the leading forces in Hull theatre – but Mungo says it took some time
for things to take off. “I wouldn’t say we were particularly successful when we started in September 2011... Sort of for the first 16 to 18 months we did so much, and a lot of that was rubbish, and we were all working in cafes and bars. “Our first show was at Fruit – for the first couple of months we were there – and we did a show at the Adelphi. I think we did about eight shows in the space of 10 months. It was ridiculous, working in cafes during the day and then rehearsing in the evening. It was a very important time for us because we didn’t know what we wanted to do – but we figured out what we didn’t want to do. Paul adds: “We had to put our own money in and do it around surviving and finding jobs and finding houses and all that.” For Mungo, the turning point was the production of Apples in autumn 2012 at Hull Truck. “That was the first time we got funding from the Arts Council, so that was a huge deal for us.”
> And last year, the company won the inaugural Musical Theatre Network development award for its production of Weekend Rockstars at the Edinburgh Fringe.
walk into an auditorium at one of our shows and I see an audience of faces that I’ve never seen at a theatre before, it feels like a much more organic thing.”
go upstairs in the cafe and rehearse for two-and-a-half hours.
Asked about what the highlights have been for themselves personally and for the company, they both take some time to think, before Mungo says: “It’s really hard to pick out like one or two. Winning the award last year was great, but it’s not those sort of moments that stand out. One moment that I loved was when we did a show at Fruit called Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. That was just after Apples and we hadn’t done anything like that before – we split up the audience so that the men were sitting on one side and the women were sitting on the other. We were telling the couples, ‘That’s your seat and that’s yours,’ and you could visibly see the fear in them about not sitting together.”
Do they have any advice for anyone wanting to start their own company? Mungo says: “That 18 months at the beginning for us was so important, we weren’t paying ourselves anything, but it was such an important time for the company because we did stuff and we figured out what we didn’t enjoy doing and how to draw people to the theatre.
Paul’s message is clear: “Make the work that you want to see, rather than what you think the Arts Council want to see.
Paul adds: “For me it’s when I
“It was just before we did Sweeney Todd – we had the Adelphi booked, but we literally had nowhere to rehearse and I ended up calling my boss at McCoy’s, where I was working at the time, and told him I really didn’t know what to do, and in the end he just gave me a set of keys and when we closed every day we would just let ourselves in and
“I think we just didn’t let fear rule ourselves in those first few months.”
He adds: “You also need to really care about what you’re doing.” There is plenty going on this year, and at the mention of 2017, Mungo says: “We’re still figuring it out, but this year we’re doing a tour of Weekend Rockstars, starting in May, and going to London, Birmingham, Leicester and Luton, which is great.” Speaking about a recent success, he adds: “We’re taking the show we’ve just done at Hull Truck a few months ago – Ten Storey Love Song – up to the Edinburgh Fringe
Ian Judson Festival this year, and then we’re also performing at Assemble Fest at the end of May, which is a theatre festival on Newland Avenue. Then if plans work out funding-wise, we’re hoping to do a Halloween event at Welly this year and a pantomime at Fruit as well.” ‘Evolution’ is an important word for Middle Child – and Mungo says Browse readers should watch out for developments at the Goodwin Trust, which is also based in the Thornton Estate. “They’ve just bought a church on this estate that they’re going to be turning into an arts venue for local companies to use, be it theatre or dance, so that will be a really exciting space to use for 2017 and beyond.” The legacy of 2017 is often talked about, and Paul believes there is already a legacy emerging: “There are more companies now than there
were before the announcement of City of Culture. Hull feels like a place that is more viable to stay in, or move to, rather than leave when you get out of university, which people seemed to think about it before.
but I also like the idea of going somewhere that people have an affiliation with, like somebody might say, ‘I really love the Adelphi, and I can’t wait to see a piece of theatre there’.”
“I think part of the legacy needs to be that, it’s not about one great year and then everybody talks for the next five years about how great that year was – it needs to say, this year shows what we can do, now we need to get addicted to doing it year after year after year.
Middle Child is an associate company of Hull Truck, a link-up that is proving successful. Mungo says: “It has helped with some technical stuff and some advice. It’s going to be interesting to see where Hull Truck goes in the next couple of years and especially in 2017 with stuff that they want to bring in.”
“I think that’s what we’re hoping, that 2017 isn’t the end of something, it’s the start of something and we’re not looking back saying, what a great time that was.” There are lots of non-traditional venues that they would like to produce theatre in, Paul adds: “I could name five or 10 places that I would like to take over that are derelict now; we did that with the play Mercury Fur,
Paul adds: “It’s been good. We can now associate with Hull Truck, and that brings in a common sort of shared relationship with other companies and forms a nice bond.” All I can say is, after half an hour with these two very enigmatic characters, Hull is very lucky to have them here.
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> To start with, could you explain, for our readers, exactly what Hull Independent Cinema is and how exactly the idea of creating the charity, the Hull Independent Cinema Project, came about? Hull Independent Cinema is a registered volunteer-run charity in Hull which organises and exhibits weekly film screenings at multiple venues in the city. We screen arthouse, world and independent cinema, with a focus on screening films that have not been shown in Hull at the main chain cinemas. We currently exhibit films at Hull Truck Theatre, Fruit, Trinity House Theatre (within Hull Trinity House Academy) and Union Mash Up. We also hold short film events, run cult movie screenings with our Cult Cinema Sunday strand and classic films back on the big screen with our We Watch Films strand. The organisation came about in 2012 from our founder Paul Terry and his desire to open an independent cinema in the city (which Hull currently does not have) once he saw the old Tower nightclub was up for rent. We were formerly operating as Hull Independent Cinema Project (and this is our registered charity name), but we chose to drop ‘Project’ when our plans picked up speed and we began to do more and more in the city over the past few years. > What are your aims as the charity of Hull Independent Cinema? Our ongoing aim is audience development – getting more and more people to come and watch independent film with us as a collective audience, and raise public awareness about who we are and what we do. Our long-term goal is to open our own independent cinema in the city, which would be home to all of our various types of screenings and the go-to place for film fans in the city. > Some might say that Hull has garnered itself quite an unfair reputation in regards to culture, despite having earned the title of City of Culture 2017. Do you think that having your organisation based in Hull has hindered your progress in any way? Not at all. In fact it helps, simply as nowhere else in Hull is doing what
we do. The main cinemas in the city rarely screen the types of films we do, so we are the perfect antidote to the films they show. We’re demonstrating there is a desire and an audience in Hull for the types of films we screen, and one that was not being met by the programming of the existing cinemas. Many have to travel out of town to places like Leeds and York to see certain films, so it’s great to be able to show them in Hull.
> What plans do you have for the future of Hull Independent Cinema? We’re excited to be involved in helping deliver the 2017 programme, alongside continuing our own regular weekly screenings. Throughout this year and next we’ll continue to work on our long-term goal of opening a new independent cinema. Which is easier said than done, but we’re not going to stop until it becomes a reality and a place we can call home.
> Why do you think access to independent cinema is important in Hull? To be able to showcase other types of stories, cultures and films that are more challenging, thought provoking and eye-opening than standard Hollywood fare. It’s important to be able to show alternatives to the mainstream and give people access to something a little different.
> What events do you have planned for the upcoming months and how will people learn more about them? We continue to screen one to two films a week at our screening venues around the city, so come down and join us. We also run the Hull Film Festival, which returns later this year for its third year, running from June 29–July 4. Expect to see lots of exclusive film screenings as we take over Hull Truck Theatre for six days of the best in new cinema.
> Are you intending to use Hull’s award of City of Culture 2017 to your advantage and, if so, how? We’ve already been working behind the scenes with the City of Culture team, who support our work in the city. We’ll be working with them to deliver the film remit throughout 2017 alongside lots of exciting regional partners and film organisations. Watch this space for some exiting cinema experiences coming to Hull next year.
Full information about us, our screenings and tickets are available from www.hullindependentcinema.com You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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