A driving instructor from Huddersfield changed gear to take part in a “surreal” celebration in which thousands of people stripped naked and were painted blue.
Nigel Deans was among 3,200 people in the event – the largest of its kind ever to be staged in the UK – by New York-based artist Spencer Tunick.
It was to celebrate Hull’s relationship with the sea, and Nigel, of Longwood , who runs his own driving school and co-runs Huddersfield Driving Experience, an off-road driving school for youngsters under 17, heard about it on the radio and decided to go across and take part.
Tunick’s Sea of Hull installation involved participants from 20 countries who gathered at dawn and were daubed with four shades of blue body paint in celebration of Hull’s maritime heritage. They then posed for a series of site specific installations around some of the city’s best known historic locations.
Tunick’s latest work was commissioned by Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery and will be one of the highlights of its programme in 2017, when Hull is UK City of Culture.
Nigel said: “I heard about it some months ago on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show and thought having just turned 40, it would be something unusual to do.
“Although a little out of West Yorkshire, next year sees Hull as the Capital of Culture for 2017 and as part of this, Spencer travelled from America to photograph the ‘Sea of Hull’.
“More than 3,200 people attended to strip bare, paint themselves varying shades of colour and then walk the streets of Hull to pose in a number of locations including a rose garden and a swing bridge which when completely full of people was opened and closed whilst Spencer took a number of photos.
“Whilst very daunting and extremely surreal, the experience was amazing and something I would definitely consider doing again. I did ask my wife Lucy if she wanted to join me, but she said she felt that ‘Hull wasn’t quite ready for that just yet’. To be honest I think she is just a tad shy!
“More surreal was when everyone got dressed again afterwards then went off on the way home doing everyday things which when dressed seemed like some kind of alien nation. It was great fun.”
Hull Council said the turnout was the largest in any of Tunick’s UK artworks, beating Gateshead in 2005 and Salford in 2010.
Tunick said: “The Sea of Hull installation was one of the most fantastic projects I’ve ever done, and it was inspiring to be able to intertwine the city’s maritime heritage against an urban backdrop throughout the whole piece.”