Empty shops in Hull city centre are being given a bright new look as the result of a partnership between Hull BID, a prominent land owner and a top photographer based in the city.
The result is a series of eye-catching displays that will help promote the city centre, the forthcoming Hull BID Fashion Week and the stylish work of photographer Chris Oaten.
Shop windows at the vacant units will showcase some of Chris’ work featuring local model Kitty, which were taken against the backdrop of some of Hull’s most recognised landmarks as part of a venture that has been made possible by the owners of one of the city’s historic buildings – Hull Trinity House Charity.
The move follows the creation of similar displays by Hull BID last month in the windows of the former T J Hughes building on Ferensway. The additional benefits of the latest project are that it will underline some of Hull’s creative strengths and promote a major social and cultural event.
“The displays in Ferensway were really well received so we looked at what we could do in Whitefriargate, where Hull BID is working with Hull City Council on a number of ideas to promote the area,” said Jennifer Marshall, Hull BID Marketing Co-ordinator.
“Hull Trinity House Charity, which owns the properties, was extremely helpful and agreed instantly to let us display the images in the vacant units, so we decided to use them to promote Fashion Week and some of the stunning photographs taken by Chris, who has worked on Fashion Week since it started three years ago.”
Chris has put forward seven images from his Red Riding Hull portfolio featuring Kitty, a model who came to Hull as a student and who has maintained her links with the city while building a career nationally and internationally.
“I created the Red Riding Hull concept because I was sick and tired of people always putting the city in negative positions in various league tables,” said Chris.
“I wanted to showcase the positive things that the city has to offer, so I asked top local designer Sarah Bowes to design a cape and we took it to some of the great locations in our city.”
Rather than reveal all the locations, Chris is inviting people to name them and select their favourite, with a signed print for the winner.
“Some of them are on my website at www.otenphotography.co.uk but the only way to see them all is to visit the displays and take a look,” he said.
Hull BID Fashion Week will kick off on Saturday 28 April with a spectacular tour of the city centre by fashion models on an open-top bus.
The finale will take place in Holy Trinity Church between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 5 May and will feature four catwalk shows – including themes around the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games – as well as displays by independent retailers, a vintage market, clothes swap and an “up-cycling” demonstration of how to turn old clothes into new bags and aprons.
During the week the city centre department stores and three main shopping centres will hold their own events including a fashion show at Princes Quay, a series of style advice workshops at St Stephen’s and a focus on health and beauty at the Prospect Centre.
Photograph: Chris Oaten outside empty unit display on Whitefriargate.