Beyond the Silver Pit

Festival Location: St Nicholas Kirkyard

Beyond the Silver Pit by the poet Adelle Stripe explored the lives of Hull’s Hessle Rd fishing community in the 19th century. Using archival research and her own family history, she created a narrative poem in ten parts that revealed the story of her great great great grandfather, Matthew Gains Mudd, who was lost at sea on Dogger Bank in the great storm of December 1894.

A hurricane which took the lives of 108 men, this tragic event began on the winter solstice, and destroyed eight smack boats and five steam trawlers around the Silver Pit fishing area, approximately seventy miles north-east from Spurn Point. This region is known for its lucrative fishing grounds but also suffers from hazardous conditions in its shallow waters. It was once known as ‘The Cemetery’ due to the amount of wrecks on the sea bed. In the pre-Ice Age era Dogger was the piece of land that joined Britain to mainland Europe. Fishermen have been known to pull up oak trees, mammoth skeletons and peat soil in their nets when fishing in the area.

As part of the project Stripe has travelled to Iceland to speak to local fishermen about the historic links between Hull and Reykjavik, and the waters which were fished by Hull crews up until the Cod Wars of the 1970s. Her research has discovered that Matthew Gains Mudd was a crew member on steam trawlers that fished in Icelandic waters, an area which was particularly treacherous in the bleak mid-winter. She has also spoken to fishermen in the Holderness area who regularly fish in the Silver Pit.

Drawing on local folklore, oral histories, hydrographic maps and archive material from Hull History Centre, Beyond the Silver Pit reveals the story of the final fatal voyage of Matthew Gains Mudd, and his battle against the tempestuous nature and savage beauty of the North Sea.

As part of the project Stripe collaborated with typographer Trevor Johnson, who is most well known for his work with Factory Records, and lighting designer Nick Malbon, to create a captivating multi-media installation.

This project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

About the artists…

Adelle Stripe has published three collections of poetry and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Stool Pigeon and Morning Star. In 2012 Dark Corners of the Land was named Poetry Book of the Year at the 3:AM Awards and was also a Scotsman Book of the Year. She teaches Creative Writing at MMU’s Manchester Writing School and was included in the Read Women 2014 list.

Alongside Ben Myers and Tony O’Neill she was a founding member of the Brutalist Poets, one of the first literary movements to be established via social media. Described as ‘a kitchen sink realist poet’ by the Spanish daily ABC, her writing records the realities of everyday life in a visceral and unflinching way. Raised in a small farming community in Yorkshire, her poems often respond to the harsh and uncompromising power of the natural world.

Her poem Bad Blood – a collaborative work with analogue filmmaker Cherry Kino and musician C.A.R – was selected for Berlin International Directors’ Lounge and Filmpoem Festival in 2014. Adelle has recently edited a chapbook by the Japanese poet Akiko Yosano on Tangerine Press, and is currently writing a nonfiction novel based on the life and work of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar.


Twitter: @adellestripe


Nick Malbon is one of the UK’s leading lighting designers and projection specialists working across stage, film and TV. A technical expert in catalyst, chamsys and MA2 he is also director of Lighting Made Simple. He regularly works with designers to deliver work at major events such as the Brits, MTV EMAs, and on the global pop/rock circuit. He has a long record of working with artists providing technical guidance and consultancy for creative projects at scale.


Trevor Johnson has been creating iconic images, typography and graphics for the past five decades. He forged his reputation in the days of the 80s & 90s Madchester rave scene with designs for the legendary Hacienda nightclub and its owners Factory Records – the bedrock of the modern creative economy in the city. Contributions to the feature film of the activity of the period ‘24 Hour Party People’ included a guest cameo role in the movie.

It was the legacy of this work that saw Trevor graduate into a league of highly respected local design mavericks and he continued his involvement in shaping the image of Manchester, creating branding for some of the region’s leading organizations including Manchester United FC, Manchester International Airport, Granada Television, and Manchester City Council, and with a close association with all of the region’s main architects and developers was at the start of Manchester’s urban renaissance.

With vast experience in both arts-based activity and visual communication he has independently Art Directed shows and productions for galleries such as Tate Liverpool and Cornerhouse Manchester, publicity for clients Granada Television, North West Arts, and Royal Exchange Theatre, and has co-ordinated various visual arts projects for solo artists and for national galleries such as V&A. In the early 00s he also ran his own Northern Quarter gallery, Object57 presenting art, photography, graphics, illustration and 3d, with contributors ranging from high-profile international established artists, to upcoming starlets.

His work has been widely published in various international and European industry books and publications, and often featured in UK style mags such as The Face and ID during the 80s & 90s. He has contributed to the formation of both undergraduate and postgraduate design courses at Salford and Manchester Universities and lectures in visual communication, branding and typography. Included in the Who’s Who of Manchester publication, he was appointed a member of the City of Manchester’s Creative Panel, and is currently Design Director at Havas Lynx Europe, Manchester’s leading design consultancy.

Renowned in his shared hometowns of Salford and Manchester, to this day Johnson is one of the regions most respected designers with a strong following amongst creative and digital professionals as a leading light in his field.