A campaign to save an iconic mural in Hull City Centre has been ongoing since May 2016. We interviewed the organisers to find out more.
The distinctive mosaic was commissioned by the Co-operative Society in the early 1960s and designed by ceramicist Alan Boyson. It was built in 1963 as the frontage for the new Co-operative store in the city centre.
“The mural is important as it was erected in post-war England, in an area that was devastated by Second World War bombing,” explains Leigh Bird, Social Media Manager for the campaign. “The Co-operative store was one of the first nice, clean, new buildings to be constructed. The Three Ships mark the end of the war and celebrate the bringing together of people.”
The incredible yet often overlooked maritime-themed artwork stands 66 feet tall and 64 feet wide: “It is made up of an impressive 4,224 slabs, with each slab consisting of 225 glass cubes,” Leigh tells us. “Over one million mosaic pieces make up the landmark."
Whilst there has been no statement by Hull City Council regarding the removal of the mural, the future of the artwork is not looking bright. Following the closing of the premises' BHS store, the whole area has been earmarked for redevelopment in the City Plan. The mural’s future relies upon it being granted a Grade II listing by Historic England, a proposal that was rejected in November 2016.
“Hull City Council has said that it would like to preserve the mural in any way that it can, but if a development company proposes a fantastic idea, the future of the mural is uncertain.”
Hull Heritage Action Group is putting forward a petition to lobby the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
“We are keen to have the mosaic Grade II listed, as this will provide a healthy balance between preserving the artwork and progressing forward with new development for the city.”
With this petition, the campaigners hope to raise awareness among the general public, as well as provide a weighty backing for their appeal.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have support from passionate residents and those who have now left Hull,” enthuses Leigh. “A few well-known local faces and voices are behind us, as well as industry experts who wish to preserve post-war architecture and art.”
Whilst the fate of the Three Ships mural hangs in the balance, brand new murals are being unveiled for Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Most notably, the Terrace Enders paintings on Hessle Road.
“The new murals on Hessle Road are a wonderful example of the art that this city has to offer, but we shouldn’t ignore what culture we already have," Leigh adds. "The Three Ships are intrinsic to Hull’s landscape."
“We really appreciate all the support we get and we’d love it if you could share the petition on social media. Alternatively, if you know someone who doesn’t have access to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter but would be interested in preserving a slice of Hull’s history, do forward them the petition via email or in person.”
To help save the mural, please sign the petition over at Change.org. On top of this, you can get involved with Hull Heritage Action Group on Facebook.
Mike Bartlett Photography
Nick Coupland Illustration