This is my latest piece of work, called Rot_in_Silence_2016.
It was made in response to being asked to contribute a work to a crowdfunder for an independent film called ‘Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle’, and it will be up for grabs as an A3 original print. Here’s a link to the Crowdfunder: https://www.indiegogo.com/…/dispossession-the-g…/x/13528122…
Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle is a no holds barred, explosive feature length documentary exploring the decline and deception behind the social housing crisis in Britain. It will be directed by Paul Sng, maker of the acclaimed cinema release Sleaford Mods – Invisible Britain (2015) and the award winning film & television director Lee Skelly (BBC, Channel Four).
I have donated an original print of a new work I have made after filmmaker Paul Sng asked me if I’d like to be involved in helping support the crowdfunder for this project. This will be an A3 print of my latest work Rot_in_Silence_2016.
I am also donating a print of a drawing I did almost one year ago, in the wake of the Tory general election victory, as part of a perk for the crowdfunder that includes a selection of postcards featuring different artists supporting the project. The drawing in question is possibly one of my most pivotal to what I’ve been working on during the past year.
As part of a collective, I have embarked on a Crowdfunder project myself, in order to raise funds for an art show and documentary called ‘Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) (Please read more about it here). Very much inspired and informed by Paul Sng’s last film ‘Invisible Britain’, Paul has been very supportive in helping our project get off the ground.
On the eve of last year’s UK General Election (May 7 2015, to be specific), I embarked on a reflective ramble through the villages myself and my rambling companion, Michael Hill, grew up in. I guess, in a sense, to reflect on lost dreams, lost ways, and lost futures, with an acceptably small sprinkle of nostalgia inevitably chucked in.
It was, in some sense, like testing the atmosphere. On this uncertain eve, we were using the landscapes of our childhood as a terrain to ponder upon; to think of what could be, and what might very well be, the next day – unsure if the election results would make any real difference anyway
…But they did.
This specific ramble, more than any other I’d recorded, was paying massive homage to Patrick Keiller’s London, a beautiful lament through the capital of a Tory-ruled country in the spring of 1992.
I sort of based it on the same theme, as the pivotal point in Patrick Keiller’s London is the 1992 General Election outcome. One in which the Tories were expected to lose to Labour, but one in which the narrator was force to conclude that:
It seemed there was no longer anything a Conservative government could do to vote itself out of office. …[T]he middle class in England had continued to vote Conservative because in their miserable hearts they still believed it was in there interest to do so.”
As we headed towards early night time on the kind of spring day that initially sprinkles optimism onto your horizons, a sinking feeling set in, and I knew, even before one of my mates starting messaging me a series of texts, all beginning with “fucking hell”, that, yet again, the politics of pessimism had won over.
I was recently speaking to a friend about the mood on the street on Friday 8 May, and she described it as akin to a funeral procession. Nobody celebrates a Conservative victory apart from the party itself – or so it seemed, as straight away you could sense their joy in the sadism they could now systemically inflict now they’d shook the Lib Dems off their back.
The above drawing is called Five MORE Years…, and despite it behind significantly smaller than most my other works, it is one of my most cherished. I set upon it within a day or two of the 2015 General Election outcome. Never before, and not since, have I felt my work strike such an emotional chord with those around me. I almost felt part of something, as if, through the dysphoria of the following couple of weeks, common ground appeared between far more people than I expected, making our political differences seem tiny.
It occurred to me how much a political change would have to rely on a mood in society, its spirit even, for people to get involved en mass. Because in the ‘miserable old man of Europe’ (Britain), every now and then there’s a sense that it doesn’t have to be so miserable here.
I have been caught within a depressed framing of the world for most of my adult life, and although I accept that changing is something only I can do, the times when it has felt truly possible to leave this framing behind are when I’ve sensed the opening for the possibility of a social change, a two-way-process so-to-speak. I described it in Lost Bus Routes and Pre-General Election Rambles like a plant in a desert that only flowers once a generation. After a rather turbulent beginning to 2015, I found this feeling on on the early eve of May 7.
I just hope it doesn’t take a generation to find it again…
The above link is for the current exhibition I am involved in making happen. Fighting For Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is an attempt of artists to take an honest look at the depressed spirit of Britain. It has been informed by life in 2015, the glimmers of a different type of world, and the dampening of many of those glimmers. I guess we are looking at how the spirit could be changed, before it gets too late.
Please take a moment to check it out.
Currently working on this piece for a show, Leeds-way, in Mid-May
A few of the Fighting For Crumbs artists were involved in projects with Driftmine last year. In fact, the reflections on those projects were very influential towards the plans to do this project.
Driftmine helped us transcribe our audio recording a few of us had in a bar in Barnsley, in which we put together the reasons for this show. The link to the transcription is below:
Drainage System (2016, A4, mixed media on paper)
The Capacity to Care (Closure No5), 2016, A4, ink on paper
At a time controversially close to the event itself, it was said that the 9/11 terror event was ‘the last shock of the new‘, as the world spent a week in perpetual shock as the media horror show was melted into our brains like napalm.
24/7 rolling news was a new thing in 2001 (well, it was to me, here in the UK, anyway), and I remember for the following weeks my heart stopping every time I saw the words ‘breaking news’ appear on a news screen on a TV in a shop window. I wasn’t aware that the whole structure of a 24/7, unending news service was to shock, or interrupt us in our ‘always on’ 24/7 lives, that lack clear boundaries between work, leisure, the physical and virtual – the life we would increasingly live in the following 15 years.
The Internet was a chore in 2001, which required enthusiasm for Computers. But just around the corner we had Broadband and Smartphone technologies, which would soon glue our fingertips to an unending rolling news of personal, national, and international events.
I can honestly say I’ve seen news about pretty seismic terrorist attacks, and instantly forgot about them, because of the noise in my head as a stream of things grapple for my care and commitment. In fact I sometimes wonder if the draping of your Facebook profile with the colours of a country that has just endured a terror attack isn’t so much about blindly following what everyone else does, but is more about how we wished we had the capacity to care about the awful things that happen to others in our cruel world, but simply don’t.
This isn’t also to go in the politics of the political economy that is behind this techno-structure; the rule of market individualism has strengthened in our ‘always on’ times, making life feel unbearably competitive. We want to care. Most ‘millennial’s’ (especially) have been told so much of the horrors of the 20th century, that don’t bear repeating, but being ‘always on’, the deluge of shocks has clearly desensitized us. Anxiety hasn’t been diminished by this desensitization, we remain as bored of this world as much as we are anxious within it. Nobody likes to feel numb to things that should require our humanity. It’s this desire for our own humanity, that reflects a deeper desire for different kind of world.
Here is a selection of my works on display at the Redshed (the Wakefield Labour Club). Although these works are being taken down today, they were displayed as a ‘taster’ for a larger, quite exciting event, that I am involved in staging later in the year. So please stay tuned in as there will be posts about it coming soon…
2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Redshed, and a years’ worth of events are currently ongoing to mark this, and to celebrate how it has remained a politically tuned in, politically active place right through to the present. The social mood, the political climate, was fundamentally different to the mood now, in 2016.
I was asked by friends closely involved with the club to put on a show of my work. I didn’t simply want to put a few pictures up, I wanted to stage an event that looked at the reasons my work is like it is by looking at today’s political climate, the climate my generation, and younger, have grown up within. And in doing this I have asked others’, whom I believe tell a somewhat similar story, to be involved.
More news coming soon about this event…!