BY the rocky Khyber Pass in East Park on a dank December day, Richard Hall is stripping off to become Wolverine – the mutant superhero of Marvel Comics.
Suitably muscled he looks the part, along with a set of rapier-like claws – made out of cereal boxes.
Mr Hall admits to being nervous, having in earlier life, struggled with his body image. But after the quickest of shoots – photographer Quentin Budworth has to rush off and meet “Marilyn Monroe” in under half an hour – he is glowing. “I feel a real weight lifted off,” he says.
Budworth’s delightfully quirky Hullywood Icons project will be a highlight of the opening event to UK City of Culture 2017.
A runaway success, the artist started out with the intention of inviting a few dozen people to dress up as their favourite Hollywood characters, against instantly recognisable city landmarks.
But the calls kept coming in, and he now looks to top 100, with over 300 people, adults and kids, taking part. There’s been everything from the 37-year-old mother-of-two recreating the iconic moment in film history when Ursula Andress stepped out of the water in Dr No – except she was in front of the Humber Bridge – to a leather-clad mob (The Wild Ones) doing their best to look menacing outside Rayners pub on Hessle Road.
“Marilyn Monroe” is Lucy Lines, looking splendid in a plunging halterneck dress and silver stilettos, who comes with partner Mike, who admits he “normally stands in the corner quietly watching.”
The shoot in Kingston Square is for The Seven Year Itch – a cinch for blonde Ms Lines, who does vintage pin up modelling as a sideline – while Mike plays the part of Tim Ewell.
Ms Lins said: “We’ve had a naff 2016, I think Hull really needs to celebrate 2017. I’m a massive fan. Quentin has given an opportunity for people to take part, you don’t get a chance to do that every day.”
As part of the seven-day opening event, which starts on January 1, called Made In Hull, Budworth will be touring Hessle Road and Spring Bank in a Land Rover projecting the images against buildings to a specially composed Score of Scores, before coming back into the city centre for the last hour.
To me, it seems the project has shades of a dressing game, rather like the cartoon Mr Benn.
In this case people meet Budworth, briefly discuss how they want to pose, there’s a short adventure – the posing in the park certainly takes the dogwalkers by surprise – before they reenter their ordinary lives. Budworth said: “The idea was I wanted to use Hull as a playground and play with the people of Hull and this was a good way of doing it.
“This is showbiz, creative and fun – people instantly see what they get from it.
“I really want it to come from them. I want them to take ownership of it. It is a co-authored piece. It is not wrapped up in art speak. It is a dead simple concept.”
Budworth discovered what it was like to be on the other side of the camera when he appeared as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (medieval costume, pointy shoes, hump made from rucked up woolly jumper) at the city’s Holy Trinity Church, the only long shot in the whole sequence.“It was a bit weird, but good,” he said.
Later in January, Budworth is taking the Icons to Beverley Minster, St Mary’s and the Guildhall, and after that to Bridlington. He is having an exhibition from February 7 to April 2 at the Hull International Photography Gallery in Princes Quay, and there will be a print-on-demand book. For more visit hullywoodicons.com.