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4th August 2017

This is a Freedom of Expression Centre to open at Hull School of Art and Design as part of Hull 2017 'Look Up' programme.

Artist Bob and Roberta Smith is heading to Hull in August, where he will install a sign more than 12 metres long on the roof of Hull School Art and Design, proclaiming "This is a Freedom of Expression Centre".

In a joint project with Hull School of Art & Design and as part of the Hull 2017 Look Up programme of public art installations, the sign will herald a month of activity exploring the nature of modern protest, the role that art and arts education have in reinforcing the democratic process and the freedom and restrictions that artists experience around the world.

This is a Freedom of Expression Centre encompasses an exhibition, including a new Bob & Roberta Smith artwork that is more than 14 metres long, plus workshops, talks and a special performance by the artist's Apathy Band on Saturday 2 September and a conversation between Bob and Roberta Smith and Blair Imani on Sunday 3 September, during the Freedom Festival. Freedom Festival is Hull’s annual celebration of notions of Freedom, borne out of the celebration in 2007 of the bi-centenary of the anti-slavery act.

Bob and Roberta Smith comments:“It’s a huge honour to show this new work. This is a Freedom of Expression Centre has been inspired by two key experiences of mine: firstly, the past five years as an advocate for the arts, exploring why democratic societies generally support and defend the arts, while repressive regimes curb them. The second experience was an interview I conducted with a Black Lives Matter activist, Blair Imani, while making a BBC 4 programme on protest. You can see Blair’s inspiring interview in the exhibition. Blair’s interview took us on a journey from New York to Louisiana and into the heart of a story that is rarely revealed in the news media."

“I have painted a 14.40 metre long painting which is a transcription of two important passages of the interview. Reading is about trying to understand another’s experience. I hope the viewers of this work will read and walk the 14 metres and partake in a unique insight into contemporary protest."

“Art isn’t about opposing people or telling them what to think. I want people to reflect on what art can do, and what latent potential there is in all of us.”

Work in the exhibition by fine art students at Hull School of Art and Design will include installation and process-based participative pieces resulting from a provocation Bob & Roberta Smith presented to them earlier this year during a talk by the artist entitled 'Subject to Events'.

His work with students will also expand on this idea with 'Your Voice Needs You’, looking at how we map out the world and ideas about self through drawing, painting and sculpture. The project will conclude with a parade of the self - a reflection on how through art we can affect our environment and influence our lives.

Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: 'Hull has a long history of championing human rights and freedom. At a time of change in the UK Bob and Roberta Smith’s This is a Freedom of Expression Centre is a reminder of the important role that art and artists have in commenting on issues of the day and challenging the status quo and will be a thought-provoking part of our Freedom season."

The Freedom of Expression Centre at Hull School of Art and Design runs from Friday 4 August to Sunday 3 September. The Apathy Band will perform live at the New Adelphi Club in Hull on Saturday 2 September during the Freedom Festival. The Freedom of Expression Centre is part of Look Up, a year-long programme of temporary artworks commissioned by Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

For further information about The Freedom of Expression Centre and the Look Up programme, please contact Susie Gray or Clair Chamberlain at The Corner Shop PR 0131 202 6220/ 020 7831 7657

For general press information on Hull 2017 please contact

Ben McKnight or Alix Johnson at Hull 2017  07718 100 793 / 01482 304397