Connect>Create 2008

Colin Gray, 'Hull under Water' (1991)

Born in Hull in 1956, Gray is a photographer who works in both the arts and commerce. He has won many awards, including a 'Euro Art Direction' gold, two 'British Design and Art Direction' silvers and nine appearances in the Design and Art Direction annual.


Since 1980 he has photographed his parents, his relationship with them, and theirs with each other. The parentís project has many facets to it. The images are taken in the home around daily rituals. Both parents seem happy to take part in this staged photography, exposing themselves to ridicule from others.


Hull Under Water (1991) is a refreshing, often humorous look at the process of growing old, and a challenge to stereotyping. Many photos from the parentís series involve enactment of past times or memories, with more than a touch of fantasy woven in. His parents are often placed in surreal settings, in ridiculous situations, which make the images all the more psychologically challenging. The idea of identity and mortality in the images are familiar, strange and comforting, yet uneasy and challenging to the eye.


The surreal setting in Hull Under Water (1991) is created very simply out of cling film, adding a whole new dimension to the living room. His mother swims happily along the surface cooing to a yellow duck, whilst his father, equipped with snorkel, goes underwater into a make believe world, looking for fish, shells, a sunken ship in a bottle and a plant. There are many layers to strip back in these works. The closeness of the family and individual relationships, and how each person reacts to the other. The images are fresh, and almost a reversal of roles in the child/adult relationships.


By Joan Heron, a student from the BA (hons) Contemporary Fine Art Course at Hull School of Art and Design 2009.

Hull under water 1991 is a 'C-type' colour print.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Ferens Art Gallery, Hull | 
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