The creative director of Hull’s inaugural City of Culture event has said the city will finally share its secrets with the world as thousands of people flocked to watch the spectacular opening installation.
Sean McAllister, a documentary filmmaker from Hull, said the Made In Hull event - a city-wide artistic installation around major landmarks - would show people that the city had hidden culture.
A huge audience packed in to Queen Victoria Square to watch as stories of the city and its people over the last 70 years were projected on to nearby buildings.
Mr McAllister said: “We’re finally going to share our secret.
“If you’re from Hull, we always knew we had culture, it’s just the world didn’t know so the secret’s out, finally we’ve had to let them in. In a way we’ve kind of had these doors up to keep everybody out of our culture.
“It’s just for us, we’ve had it as a sub-culture but, damn it, we’ve finally had to open the door to the international world and let them in. They can come and see what we’ve been enjoying.”
Mr McAllister described the event as “unique”.
He said: “This has never, ever been done before so it’s a total first in the world.”
The crowd in the city centre square - where one of eight art installations will be located for the next week - chanted a countdown before a projection of a propeller was beamed on to the Ferens Art Gallery building to begin the event and a film of Hull’s history.
The crowd then fell silent as they watched Hull’s history - from pilot Amy Johnson’s solo flight to Australia in 1930 to the present day - projected around the square.
The film, by Zsolt Balogh and titled We Are Hull, also incorporated the Second World War, the city’s footballing history, its maritime heritage and the future Siemens offshore wind manufacturing plant.
The audience cheered as the phrase “We Are Hull” scrolled repeatedly across the surrounding buildings at the film’s finale.
Mr McAllister said he had worked on a concept that he hoped would be “arresting, interesting and engaging for normal people”.
Other installations making up the Made In Hull event include Hullywood Icons, featuring local people recreating images from classic films, and a multi-screen and sound installation recreating the club scene in 90s Yorkshire. The free event will run for a week.
Hull is the second city to be given UK City of Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.
The city was selected in 2013 amid some surprise, from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.
The New Year’s Day events will launch a programme which includes an array of work and artists.
The worldwide profile of Hull 2017 was raised in July when US artist Spencer Tunick corralled 3,200 naked people painted blue for his trademark photographs around Hull’s landmarks.
Tunick’s Sea Of Hull will be featured later next year at the Ferens Art Gallery, which will reopen in January following a £4.5 million refurbishment
Other highlights at the gallery will include the unveiling of a nationally significant early 14th century panel by Pietro Lorenzetti and five of Francis Bacon’s notorious Screaming Popes.
University of Hull alumni, the late Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, will be celebrated with a retrospective of his work and an exhibition in January.
Hull Maritime Museum will begin the year with a look at the city’s whaling history with an audiovisual installation of a Bowhead whale.
Organisers of Hull 2017 and local politicians have explicitly linked the cultural plans for the year with the economic transformation of the city, symbolised by the £300 million investment by German tech firm Siemens in an offshore wind manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock.
Council leader Stephen Brady has said more than £1 billion of investment has flowed into the city since the UK City of Culture announcement, including £100 million of capital investment in the cultural and visitor infrastructure.
More than 25,000 people are expected to watch a huge fireworks display over the River Humber later.