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Stunning sculpture trail celebrates 1,000 years of Hull-Iceland ties

A sculpture trail of life-sized metal figures will go on show at the University of Hull this month as part of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 programme.

26th April 2017

CAIRNS, by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, will form a trail around the University, encouraging visitors to explore the campus.

The exhibition opens on 28 April, with the cast iron and steel sculptures – some up to 2.5 metres high –celebrating the ties between Hull and Iceland.

CAIRNS is the latest in a packed programme of the University’s events as a Principal Partner in Hull UK City of Culture 2017. More than 30,000 visitors have already attended events from exhibitions of world-famous artwork to film festivals and live music festivals.

Steinunn said:

I am thrilled at the prospect of installing CAIRNS at the campus of the University of Hull. It will be a beautiful frame for the 10 life size sculptures that will make up the sculpture trail. “Hull has a special place in my heart ever since the Voyage project was initiated all those years ago. I’m excited to be back and hope the trail will encourage people to visit the campus and experience it in a new way.

Steinunn’s sculptures have previously been located in public spaces around the world including outside the United Nations in New York.

She was also responsible for creating the Voyage sculpture near The Deep in Hull, as well as its sister sculpture in Iceland. Like Voyage, the exhibition at the University celebrates the cultural and historic links between Hull and Iceland, which share more than 1,000 years of trading across the seas.

Professor Glenn Burgess, University of Hull Acting Vice-Chancellor and the University’s Hull 2017 lead, said:

CAIRNS will provide the public, as well as University of Hull students and staff with an extraordinary new way to explore our beautiful campus. Not only are the sculptures stunning works of art, they also celebrate the common cultural history that Hull and Iceland share. The exhibition builds on the tremendous success of our Hull 2017 programme so far, which has included world-renowned art, music, film and much more.

The University of Hull was chosen as the location for CAIRNS because the artist and University felt the campus would be a fitting backdrop for the sculptures. Not only do they respond to the beautiful grounds, but the sculptures reflect the University’s purpose as a seat of learning, inspiring minds for generations to come.   

Visitor information:

  • CAIRNS opens on 28 April and runs until October.
  • The sculptures are dotted around the University of Hull’s Cottingham Road campus and are accessible around the clock, but we advise to have a look at them during daylight hours
  • Maps with detail about each sculpture are available from the Venn building reception and Middleton Hall at the front of campus during office hours.
  • For more information, visit Culturenet

CAIRNS opens as Hull’s links with Iceland are celebrated in another major Hull UK City of Culture 2017 event, John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux: Sounds from Smoky Bay.  This 4 day electronica music festival (28 April-1May), curated by the American singer songwriter and Curated Place, features some of the most exciting and innovative musicians from Scandinavia and Iceland and is a music festival like no other.

Among those on the billing are University of Hull lecturer Dr Simon Desbruslais, who on 1 May will perform a world premiere of a solo trumpet piece composed by Deborah Pritchard at the foot of the Voyage sculpture. The new piece is inspired by Voyage and is perhaps the longest ever composition for solo trumpet. Simon will also perform at the Vik sculpture on 4 June to coincide with the Icelandic Festival of the Sea.

To book, visit the Hull 2017 website.