Second Photographer – Rebecca Robyns

As a part of The Changing Face of Hull Project lead artist Quentin Budworth undertook the mentorship of up and coming photographer Rebecca Robyns. Rebecca was commissioned to produce up to 20 portraits for the project.  Her challenge was to engage with the project on a professional level, work to tight deadlines, produce images of exhibition quality conduct interviews and create appropriate written content for the project.

Rebecca was actively engaged in ‘learning by doing’ during the image making, workshop and editing processes. Rebecca’s challenge was  to create meaning and emotion visually through photographic storytelling by using the camera, lens craft, and digital post production She was also to develop her professional practice as an artist by exploring the key theme of ‘the changing face of Hull’ in collaboration with project participants.

Here she describes her thoughts about the project in her own words…

‘My work with the Changing face of Hull has been a real eye opener and a uniquely fascinating opportunity to get inside the rich and cultural diversity of the city and its people. What struck me the most was that so many of the participants seemed to echo one strong voice, that Hull in itself has such a huge amount of potential, far more than the bad press that it has received historically.  I was touched by the feedback of our many ethnic groups who expressed a  humble sincerity and love for the city.  Hull people are passionate and like to “tell it like it is”, in short, they want to see great things happen here, to make it a fairer, stronger and a more universal place. I hope that this exhibition will encourage people to visit from all walks of life and backgrounds, it is a snap shot of the cities people FOR the cities people. It is our gift’.

Here are the images and stories in more detail more detail

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Redeye Feenix
“I’ve travelled and done shows in many different places, but Kingston-upon-Hull is the one for me, it is my sanctuary. There is so much culture from the people to the streets, a celebration of our city in song, many people come and go but our city stands strong, I just love our one-love mentality, how we all get along, that’s why I know I’m home I’m where I belong!”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns
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Lyn Acton
Jazz Singer
“Here I sit, at my table, in my kitchen, thinking of my boy…I’d much rather be up on a stage singing as that’s where I feel close to him.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Graham Beck
“I arrived in Hull as a young art student, I found Hull to be a very welcoming, if slightly bewildering, place. It seemed to feel like an over-sized town rather than a city. There were still signs of bomb damage, a dwindling fishing industry & you could buy eggs singly, as well as sugar weighed-out into paper bags, from the numerous corner shops. Things were cheap, cheerful and there was a collective pride in the city.
I left Hull after my Fine Art Course, but, I came back. It felt like returning home to me. I’ve since taught Life Drawing classes, and developed my musical skills/persona. As Graham Graham Beck, I try & entertain with a mix of quirky alternative pop and a sort of Surrealistic Vaudeville stage presence.”

Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

Ale Hall
Comedy Collective Back And To The Left
“I write comedy sketches and articles to order and perform stand up around the country. I also work with other Hull-based groups such as Right On Cue and Tarts of Anarchy. My wonderful jacket was found in a charity shop and was probably the reason my last girlfriend left me. She sent me out for milk and I came back with the jacket. Check out @battlcomedy for jokes and good times. Peace.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Bonita Caruana
Tattoo Artist
“I own a studio down Princes Avenue called Noir Bizarre, which I opened with my business partner about three years ago. I grew up in West Hull, and I’ve had to struggle a lot to get where I am today but art drove me there and I continue to do art every day, it’s my life.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Zahra Afzal
Restaurant Owner
“I came here basically for study and family. For me Hull is a success, it’s a big thing, it’s a future for me. I have one business and a further one now in Hull on Princes Avenue which is my own restaurant called Zara’s. Wherever I am in life, I cannot forget Hull as it has given me the steps to succeed in life, I love it!”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

Lemi San Gezer
Martial Arts
“I am from Turkey and came to Hull seven years ago. I came here only for 9 months to study but obviously during that seven years Hull became a home for me.
There are a lot of wrong impressions about Hull but I don’t judge it, I love it as it is. If anyone asks me I always say I am from Turkey and I am from Hull.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Dennis Caruana
“I think Hull tends to get a bad write up as the worst city for this, worst city for that but I’ve been here 60 years and I’ve quite enjoyed my stay in Hull. It’s a pretty clean town, decent people, in fact really good people in Hull in general and they’ve really taken to our music at the Springboard Festival, which has been going nearly ten years now.
There are a lot of things going on music wise and it lifts people’s spirit. Its not just about the music its about people coming together, getting on with each other, socialising, the whole thing…the community… and so these are the reasons that I got involved with it.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Vicky Hazell
Gym Owner/Martial Artist
“I have lived here all of my life, for 41 years. I love Hull and don’t think I would ever move. Within the years of doing Martial Arts we’ve had the chance to move to America as there wasn’t really much Martial Art in the Hull area where as now it seems to be growing. Me and my husband decided to set our own gym up, and bring Martial Arts from different countries and different cities to Hull. It’s surprising if you set your mind to something and if you work hard, you can achieve anything.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Jose Frazao
“The things that I love in Hull, firstly I feel safe here because I used to live in Rio, which is a very dangerous city, and secondly, is that all my life I have lived close to the water, it could be an ocean or could be a river. So I love to walk along the Humberside River.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Sarah Hemingway
Hull Homeless Outreach Group
“We are a not-for-profit organisation so everything we get is all donated, whether it is clothes or food for the food bank, or toiletries. We’ve been running it for a year and a half now. We run two soup kitchens from St. Marys Church on Lowgate, two evenings a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We recently opened a food bank.
One Christmas there was a Rucksack Appeal in Hull that I got involved with I met James Bowie, he was going round with his van with clothes and some sandwiches and so the project just took off from there.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Graham Boanas
Charity Funder Raiser
“I remember talking to my father-in-law, who was a Humber Pilot, and I said to him “The river looks uncannily low today. How low does it get?” He replied “About 6ft.” I said “You could walk across that couldn’t you?” He replied “Well you could if you were daft enough!”
Graham Boanas is the only man to have walked across the River Humber at low tide in aid of charity.
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Haris Bhamji
Indian & Continental Store, Hull

“It is a pleasure to be part of the Changing Face of Hull, we are a long established family business and love the city of Hull”.
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Chris Tuton
“I am a collector of all sorts of weird and wonderful bits and pieces. At some point I realised I had to do something with them as they were silting up all around the house. I enjoy thinking about things that are ‘under the skin’, things that are beneath and hidden and are not immediately obvious, which is why I have a fair obsession with skulls and skeletons and things like that. Everybody has one, they are a bit part of reality, but we never see them.
Part of what I do is thinking about, right, this is what’s on the surface but what’s underneath and often I’ll concentrate as much on the back of things as I will on the front even if its framed and its not visible immediately.
Why I do that I am not quite sure, but I find it very satisfying, it’s the usual artistic process of fiddling about with things until you think “yeah that’s about right” and then stopping. Its knowing when you have to stop is the challenge.
I’ve come to the idea that’s it’s basically therapy, but a lot cheaper than paying for a therapist.”
Photograph Rebecca Robyns, Words Chris Tuton

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Radio Presenter
“I’ve been at BBC Radio Humberside for 27 years and I think I’ve got one of the best jobs in the area. I’ve got the daily show from 9-12 on Monday-Friday and then do the Hull City commentaries on top of that.
My show is about giving a people a voice and whatever is affecting people’s lives and what’s going on in the area. I like to rattle cages from time to time and see if we can get things done for the area.
I like to think I make a difference. There’s a bloke who lost his job and marriage through an act of heroism that he did but which left him with 15 years of depression. He said he was beyond help, I found someone to help him. I’m quite proud of that.”
Photograph Rebecca Robyns, Words Burnsey

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Dr. Assem Allam
Owner, Hull City AFC

Assem Allam fled Egypt from persecution
Arrived in Hull at the railway station
Studied Economics at the University
Hull was now his adopted City

Made his fortune from his business Allam Marine
Before rescuing the City’s football team
A club deep in debt and in despair
He stepped in to invest and to repair

Under Dr. Allams excellent stewardship
The club won promotion from the Championship
Steve Bruce was the man to lead the team
To safety and to fulfil every Tiger fans dream

Never before had we played at Wembley
But now this became a reality
In 2014 we achieved this feat twice
A first FA Cup Final and the champagne was on ice.
A day to remember for eternity
A day when the World watched Hull City
We dared to dream by leading two nil
Before Arsenal brought on Ramsey for the kill

I’ve supported the Tigers for nearly forty years
An emotional journey of cheers and tears
I dreamed of The Tigers playing in the top flight
Of European matches on a Thursday night

Above all I dreamed of The Tigers playing at Wembley
A fading dream I thought I never would see
So thank you Dr. Allam for stepping in
To rescue my club from the mess they were in

Thank you Dr. Allam for your ambition and vision
For daring to dream and to break with tradition
Your donations to science, to sport and the arts
You have earned a place in so many hearts

Photograph Rebecca Robyns, Poem Lee Dolman

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Iranian Refugee
Photograph Rebecca Robyns

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Yane Devi Anna
Malaysian Refugee
Photograph Rebecca Robyns

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Photograph Rebecca Robyns

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Ivy Clapham
Once the Oldest Lady in Hull
“Mum was born at Alford in Lincolnshire on the 6th September 1903; it seems even longer when you say 111 years ago. She left there in her early 20’s to work for the Hall Watt family at Bishop Burton Hall, now the College, where she met her Husband, Fred, who was the local gamekeeper.
During the Second World War she did a lot of work for the Red Cross and held, what we called knitting meetings when the ladies from the village would spend an afternoon at the house, with of course the usual tea and cake, knitting garments for the Forces. When they retired to the village of Skidby she kept her eye on some of the old people who were really nowhere near as old as her!
They had a caravan at Hornsea where they spent the summer months. Even after her husband’s death, she went there with her dog and mobile phone, so that we could keep in touch. She looked after herself in her own home until going to live with her daughter in Kirk Ella for the last 3 yrs of her life, looking forward to visits from her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She had always been a very healthy person and never took any medication, old age just caught up.”
Photograph Rebecca Robyns, Words Ivy’s daughter, Ursula

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Mrs. Ramona Short
Grandmother of Rebecca Robyns
Our Family is like a patchwork quilt
With Kindness gently sewn
Each piece an original
With beauty all its own
With threads of warmth and happiness
It’s lightly stitched together
To last in love throughout the years
And to each our own endeavor

Photograph and words Rebecca Robyns

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PC 1963 Sharon Houfe, MBE
Community Cohesion Officer
“Culture for me is a big part of the need to recognise and embrace the diversity of the city. Hull is diversifying more than it ever has done before and lots of areas and parts of the city are really cool with that, whereas there are other areas that have not been previously exposed to people from different backgrounds and so I see the City of Culture as a great opportunity to do some work around that. Our aim is to promote cohesion, develop better understanding of communities and bring people together, because ultimately the work that I do is about linking in with all different, diverse communities. What I have seen time and time again is when you bring people together from different backgrounds in no time at all the differences don’t matter and its about what people have in common that makes all the difference; if we can embrace that for 2017 then that will build a legacy for the future.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns

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Professor Yasmin Merali
Professor of Systems Thinking & Director of the Centre for Systems Studies, Hull University
“My life is defined by boundaries I crossed. I was born in Uganda, of third generation Indian descent, into a British colony with an implicit, layered apartheid system: white, brown and black. My father was a senior civil servant, making us of the brown middle class. We lived counter to the system, connecting with people across racial boundaries. Art, literature, music and cuisine also crossed boundaries: it was not fusion, but we had diversity and differences co-existed. National Independence came in 1962.
In 1972, all Ugandans of Asian origin were expelled. We had 48 hours to leave, with a suitcase each and £50 worth of currency. We arrived at an English refugee camp, dressed for equatorial Africa; the camp was cold and miserable, in the National Front heartland. We were given ill-fitting clothes and shoes, and I found myself in a new school in a different country where race mattered explicitly, and gender appeared to decide what aspirations a girl could have.
University in London reconnected me with teenage dreams of intellectualising and socialising, free of gender and race divisions. I graduated in Biochemistry, and did a stint as a Clinical Biochemist at Warwick Hospital before doing a Post-Graduate degree in Medical Physics and Radiobiology. This led me into Molecular Biology research. I was offered a job at the U.S. National Research Lab in Brookhaven, but before leaving, I did a Masters in Information Technology (computers were becoming important in all scientific research).
This was an important career turn: I became interested in Artificial Intelligence and this led me to look at how social systems work. I spent the next 25 years studying complexity in social and economic systems. Understanding how actions and interactions result in “wicked problems” (like the dot-com bubble, escalation of warfare and loss of civilian lives in the Middle East, the spread of Ebola, the current financial messes) may give us more effective ways of addressing complex situations, avoiding unintended or devastating consequences. My work draws on both natural sciences and social sciences to find better ways of co-existing – celebrating diversity and what it is to be human.”
Photograph and interview Rebecca Robyns


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