An artist with a portfolio inspired by his home in Greece and his Hull heritage is preparing to display a selection of his work at a double exhibition in the city.
Peter Huby’s passion for creativity has produced nearly 60 years’ worth of paintings, etchings, sculptures and books which will be showcased in “Hull and Back” at the University of Hull.
A centrepiece in the exhibition will be a model based on the house that has been built by Peter and his wife Linda Cox as a work of art in itself near Kalamata in the Southern Peloponnese.
The exhibition will take place in the University of Hull Gallery in the Brynmor Jones Library from 20 January until 12 March. There will also be a companion event at Wrecking Ball Arts Centre from 24–26 January with a three-day programme of screenings of some of Peter’s films. Admission is free for all the events.
John Bernasconi, Director of the University of Hull Art Collection, said: “We like to bring our public a wide variety of different exhibitions. This is our first exhibition of 2023 and in itself it has a remarkable variety of themes from the big skies of Spurn Point to the fire skies of Sheffield in the blitz.
“There is also the intricacy and quality of the etchings which date back to the 1960s, the delicacy and fragility of Peter’s classically inspired sculptures and the remarkable colour, curves and sheer vibrancy of the self-built house at Kalamata, in Greece.
“We started with the simple idea of showing Peter’s paintings of Spurn Point, but when we explored his other work we realised it should be a full retrospective exhibition. We’ve never had an exhibition quite like this and it’s an exhilarating way to launch the new year.”
Peter was born in Hull in 1946 and gained his A levels at Hull Grammar School but didn’t go straight into the world of art. Living at Keyingham Marsh, he worked in the traffic section at Hull City Council and then for United Towing on the tug Serviceman.
He completed a pre-diploma course at Liverpool Art College and trained as a teacher in Hull before working at schools in Norton, near Malton, Otley and Settle, where he met Linda.
After Peter retired they went travelling to Eastern Europe and then drove south from Athens to Kalamata where they bought an olive grove from an English couple who were having problems with their builders. That wasn’t an issue for Peter and Linda.
Peter said: “The two of us built it with a cement mixer. We lived in a tent and then I built a wooden bungalow so we had somewhere to live while we were building the house. Then we camped in the house before it was finished because we had a lot of people who wanted to visit, which we actively encourage.”
“Hull and Back” features the story of the house and many other exhibits which Peter’s son Sam drove for four days to collect from Kalamata, brought to Hull and will take back afterwards.
Particularly prominent is a selection of Peter’s paintings of Spurn Point, one of his favourite places and not far from his former home at Keyingham Marsh.
He said: “I have been going to Spurn Point since I was 12. I keep going back, and back again. It’s the atmosphere and the bleakness. Over the last five years I have started to paint bigger pictures of Spurn. I started in 2018 with these four and painted them in a week.
“The Spurn paintings are dominant and there is a lot about the house we have built in Greece. I don’t think I got to grips with how complicated it was going to be. We had to come back from Greece with a load of stuff in a van, and there’s actually too much for us to display all of it.”
Linda added: “Peter is so creative that he will be working on one project and when another idea comes into his head he will pick up with that as well. Hull and Back brings together some of the results from nearly 60 years of that. It’s a celebration and a swansong.”
Among the other items on display – most of which are for sale – is a maquette of an Icarus sculpture originally made as a commission for Central High School in Lancaster. There is a set of paintings of the bombing of Sheffield during the blitz as well as 18 etchings from a collection of 50 which have been re-struck at Glasgow Print Studio. Several books, including retrospectives and novels, will also feature in the exhibition.
Opening hours for the exhibition at the University of Hull Gallery in the Brynmor Jones Library are 10.00am to 5.00pm from Wednesday to Monday with late opening until 7pm on Tuesdays. The exhibition runs from 20 January until 12 March.
The screenings take place at Wrecking Ball Arts Centre in Whitefriargate, Hull, at 2.30pm on 25, 25 and 26 January. To find out more about the programme and to book visit https://wreckingballstore.co.uk/events/
To find out more about Peter’s work visit: http://peterhuby.com/
Image: Peter Huby assembling his exhibition with paintings of Spurn Point and some of the cardboard frames which will form a model of the house in Kalamata.