The Alec Gill Hessle Road photo archive

  • 9th - 27th May 2023
  • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

This exhibition presents a selection of images taken from Alec Gill’s extensive photographic archive and study of one road and its community in the port city of Kingston upon Hull alongside archival material, setting the work in its historical context. On the occasion of the launch of The Alec Gill Hessle Road photo archive publication and against the backdrop of Greenwich University’s School of Design, this exhibition also presents process elements of the design concept, creation and production of the photobook.

Located in the northeast of England, Hull, as it’s commonly known, sits at the heart of the UK’s historic fishing culture. Local historian and author Gill set about documenting Hull’s Hessle Road fishing neighbourhood in the early 1970s with a Rolleicord twin-lens reflex camera and continued for a period of over 15 years. A benign and curious observer, Alec Gill used his camera as a tool to record and examine fragmentary moments of day-to-day life and offer a glimpse into the realities, everyday landscapes, human experiences and interactions of a neighbourhood on the street, while also revealing a period of societal change.

The photographs tap into the ever-hopeful attitude of Hessle Roaders, despite the chaotic situation they found themselves in. Enthusiasm for life wasn’t a choice for them – it was a necessity given that they were continually faced with the loss of loved ones at sea and a shared uncertainty about how long was left to live for seafaring family members and friends. Life for trawlermen was treacherous and this resulted in collective trauma for the whole community.

Alec is a storyteller. In his work, we are presented with the light and shade of a part of British history that is not often spoken about outside of Hull – a unique portrayal of resilience, unity and human connection.

Launch event with Alec Gill on the 18th May at 6:00pm.

Iranzu Baker discusses the new book that celebrates the Hull historian and photographer’s landmark community project HERE.

For further information:

The Alec Gill Hessle Road photo archive

Hull-born historian and photographer Alec Gill has opened up his archive of over 6,000 black-and-white photographs taken on his Rolleicord twin-lens reflex camera over the course of around 15 years during the 1970s and 80s. Over 200 images of Hull's Hessle Road community will be presented alongside archival material such as Alec's camera and notebooks, setting the work in its historical context.