Tag Archive | political art

2016 Yearly Round up

Here’s a selection of images of the art and exhibitions I did this year, and links to best blogs I’ve written. This year has largely been occupied by a large collective project called ‘Fighting for Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) – for which you can see our documentary, produced by DEADIDEA on the video section of this website; an intensive exhibition early in the year called ‘Under Digital Rain’, and on-going work for the collective ‘The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe’.  I feel there’s enough content within the writing and art itself to save me having to sum up 2016 both on a personal and worldly level.

Cheers: John

 

List of written work, including writings for The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe

A Lifetime’s Worth of Staring at Train Announcement Boards

This Land

Total Recall (This is The Day …you thought your life would change)

A Visit To ‘Sheffield and The Nuclear Winter’ Exhibition, and a Whole Lot More…

England’s Nervous Breakdown

Fighting For Crumbs…

Songs For My Punchdrunk Idealism

Fighting For Crumbs – a Virtual Tour

(Stories From Time-locked Space. 1)

JD Taylor – Island Story: Journeys Through Unfamiliar Britain

Stories From Time-Locked Space. 2

Stories From Time-locked Space. 3

Stories From Time-Locked Space. 4

 

 

Ten Years as a ‘Proper’ Artist

This month 10 years ago I made a breakthrough within my work. The disjointed, erratic visuals that I was using to give myself voice suddenly came together. It was the first term of my final year of my BA degree. I can honestly say this breakthrough, and the momentum it was generating, made this one of the most special, if not the most special point in my life so far. Waged work, and the inevitable social pressures such environments put on you have tested my sense of self worth over the following years. But although I may not own, or even rent my own property, have a highly valued job, or a partner in crime as I head further into my 30s, I’ve still got my artwork. It’s still ploughing on.

Novmber 2006 to November 2016

 

 

12.08.2016. Performance and poetry@Fighting For Crumbs

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On Friday 12 Aug from 6:30pm on-wards we’ll be having a performance and poetry event, alongside a last chance to see The Fighting For Crumbs exhibition

Nick Kilby

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Artist Nick Kilby will be breaking his two year performance fast to put something together for the Fighting For Crumbs event on August 12th at the Gage Gallery in Sheffield, located inside KIAC, Sheffield, S3 8DB. 6:30 – 9pm

‘”To the 330’ is a noise/aktion blood hex against an occupying administration. Be fun to see some of y’all. There will be no milk x”

 

Jeff Jethro Platts

Jeff is a singer with Parson’s Lot and CAMBODiA, a writer, performer, activist, campaigner, ex miner, ex many things.

 

follow our events page on facebook to keep up to date. https://www.facebook.com/events/1766943633588740/permalink/1777196522563451

6:30-9pm, Gage Gallery. The Lions Works, 40 Ball St, Sheffield S3 8DB

 

 

Fighting For Crumbs…

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I’ve been involved in setting this project up for the best part of a year…

Over the past few years or so I have found a few people who were agreeing with my growing sentiment:

That the mood and spirit of this society (global too) was in a deep depression, and that this had to be addressed before there could ever be a popular movement that would well and truly galvanise the daily-downtrodden’s into believing in something so much that they were prepared to fight for it.

(Let’s be honest. I’m a daily-downtrodden myself. I’m no freedom fighter.)

Trying to hold a belief that another world is possible up to the light of a new day in UK2015 was like holding a flower up to a nuclear blast – it withered and recoiled before the toothpaste was on the toothbrush. Before you know it the old depressive-pleasure-seeking kicks in: cider after cider, angry self destructive acts, a spree of undecipherable text messages  – enough to write another day off until a new dawn fades.

Art has been my backbone in a world which seems bent on being cold and meaningless in equal measure. Without it I’m a mollusc looking for the nearest dark spot to dwell in For “there are brighter sides to life and I should know, because I’ve seen them, but not very often”. And I always recoil to my work as an antidote-maker.

I’m bored of expressing this. Deeply bored.

I…..

Another world….

…a better world

Isn’t there a plant in the desert that only flowers once a generation? Is that not a perfect analogy for English optimism?

The week that followed from May 8 2015 was actually a special week for me, for it felt like I was sharing something with others. What I felt I shared was a despair and fear now that the Tories and the media were taking their gloves off for some sadist pleasures. And I felt this sharing of despair beginning to jolt people into a sort of action most of us hadn’t engaged in before. But it didn’t last…

Rotten Soil….

…A couple of months later I discovered the Sleaford Mods. Their channeling of the rotten soil of nowhereland sank into hole where a soul, a love of life should’ve been. An Antidote. Later that year I was surprised to find that a film called Invisible Britain, that followed the band, was following them on a tour of the Ingored-lands. The Ignored-lands I meandered within and wrote about: mainly Barnsley and Wakefield.

I felt an idea coming along..

This idea was given one leg to stand on when I was asked by friends to put on an exhibition at the Wakefield Labour club (Aka The Redshed).

2016 marks the 50th birthday of The Redshed, also known as The Labour club. Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire city of Wakefield, the place is somewhat unique, and has defiantly resisted the capitalist forces that have penetrated nearly everything else around it. A year-long line-up of events are now marking this anniversary.

Sandra Hutchinson, a lifelong supporter of the club, spoke of how The Redshed began at the height of the social and political changes happening in the 1960’s. In-spite of the seismic troubles around the world, it was an age of political optimism, and there was a strong belief that things could be and would be changed.

I needed to put something on that spoke of the disbelief that has penetrated the years I’ve been an adult.

Artist Corinne Deakin coincidentally came up to me thinking of doing something very similar. Looking at the way the arts were being pushed out of the reach of many people due to 5 years of needless austerity, low wages and high living costs. I must’ve said the words ‘fighting for crumbs’, in one of my waffles that I never remember, and Corinne remembered it and said that we need to call our project this.

And then it just seem to fall into place. I’d worked with the artist John Wilkinson the year before, and knew his work and thoughts were ideal for our project. And during conversations with friends Rebekah Whitlam and poet Jonathan Butcher I realised how appropriate their work was to addressing the cultural mood of this secretly unhappy Island. Corinne knew a photographer from Barnsley called Connor Matheson, who was just that little bit younger than my own town centre social circles for me to have know him prior to the this project, but I think I’d already seen his photographs and thought they would work well alongside our works, especially John Wilkinson’s paintings. In a way that is sort of Inspired by Invisible Britain, I thought it would be great to make a talking head documentary for this project – the Fighting for Crumbs documentary will be on show at the Redshed event, and hopefully all way through the Gage Event. Anyway, here’s a link to all that. https://www.facebook.com/events/1766943633588740/

Here are a few lines from each artist. All I can say is that I hope whoever reads this can make it to at least one of the events that we are putting on:

John Wilkinson (B 1962 – Sheffield based)

 

The price of coal

The Price of Coal

Austerity, the ugly reality of post-war Britain and the backdrop to the founding of the welfare state has come back to haunt us once again. Trying to invoke that spirit that enabled us to survive and rebuild the last time, David Cameron famously said ‘We’re all in it together’ but the truth is that we’re not, and it isn’t the same. A North decimated by industrial decline and unemployment is not the same as the manufacturing centres that provided the growth and foreign trade that led us to economic revival in the 50’s. A class abandoned because the education bar has become too costly to climb over is no longer the motor of the economy, and so the economic benefits of whatever financial services revival they paid for never reach them. Instead of building the State that supported growth we are dismantling Health, Education, Housing and Welfare, and replacing all but the cheapest labour with technology that frees us from work and with it income. As an artist, my work is a response to the world I live in – a mirror that reflects reality, and what it might become. Through it I express my compassion for a people who built the foundations of our world, and will be left to rot in its basements until we can see what is happening, and ask for better. Then I’ll paint pretty landscapes.

Corinne Deakin (B 1988)

Corinne Deakin

During the past 5 years, or perhaps longer, we have seen old architecture and independent business give way to gentrification and cuts that effect the working class. Education is being stifled and the youth of Britain are entrenched in large debts they may never be able to pay off, with suggestions of unfair consequences. The idea of community is disintegrating, as we are encouraged to evolve into self absorbed, cutthroat individuals where its constant networking and making a career for yourself is based more and more on who you know, not what you know- and it never hurts if you’re born into wealth. Glorifying low paid internships and getting very little in return. This is the ideology that’s being sold to aspiring artists; the dark introduction of how to make it as a successful artist today.

Jonathan Butcher (poet, B 1978, Sheffield)

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Over the last 40 years the structures that should constitute a society have been eaten away by ideals which have been instigated by the few, with the intention to pollute the many. Ideals that strive to restrict us and attempt reduce human expression to the level of the banal and the superfluous; achievements considered wasteful,and without worth. We have been left empty, yet we are expected to remain grateful for the meager gains we have scraped together; gains which when pursued only through shear necessity, place money above time and psychical and mental strain above thought and basic fulfillment. Slivers of hope are offered, but are usually temporary, and for the large part conducted by those just as driven by this machinery as those they purport to despise. This now continual scenario enforced upon us attempts to define us. It claims to speak on our behalf, without offering a single answer to this problem or a solution to our fate.

John Ledger (B 1984, From Barnsley, works in Wakefield)

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There has arisen a deep disbelief in the abilities of the human race, without much shared understanding of how we came to feel this way. Maybe it comes from the fact that with what we now know (regarding climate change, the impacts of social inequality, living memories of 20th century horrors), there’s a sense that we SHOULD be in the process of building a far better world to live in. But NO: in 2016 we are within a state of affairs that is making us scrap amongst ourselves for pieces of barely anything. Are we surprised if nervous breakdowns and spells of aimless rage are commonplace amidst this deeply absurd situation?”

Rebekah Whitlam, Sheffield, 1984

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Vanitas Britannia.

Since the recession there has been a pseudo-nostalgia of post-war Britain. Kettling, rioting, and protests were swiftly detracted from by weddings, jubilees, and cake on the BBC. The “keep calm and carry on” craft trend has escalated; beer, baking, and bunting have become synonymous with community togetherness.

Whilst we crave authenticity in ourselves and our society, empty slogans are sold back to us. The commodities of craft offer us promises of a community, but leave us all the more alienated. As handmade, locally sourced businesses cash in on redeveloping the streets, financial and emotional security remains distant for their neighbours and the divide becomes increasingly widened.

As a textile artist I feel a pressure of balancing a vision of socially inclusive creativity without undercutting myself and other artists financially. The lapping of cushions, cards, and craft is at my feet, but how do I not become part of the problem?

Austerity strains us economically and is having a detrimental effect on personal integrity and creative freedom.

Connor Matheson (B 1992 Barnsley)

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The works I am showing in Fighting For Crumbs explore the everyday lives of normal people in the Post-Thatcher era, with particular focus on themes such as family relationships, the local economy and drinking culture. With a specific focus on the north of England, this project is an accurate representation of working class culture, depicting the everyday lives of people who are often vilified in the mainstream press as “scroungers” or “yobs”. The work shows the effects of government economic policy yet also shows the human element, relationships and humour in life and celebrates the diversity of people and the character of areas.


Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield, S3 8DB

Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
11-4pm

The Redshed, 18 Vicarage St S, Wakefield WF1 1QX

Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use)

 

 

 

 

Drainage System

Drainage System (2016, A4, mixed media on paper)

Drainage System

Support Our Crowdfunder Campaign!

the imposition of conformity

‘The Imposition of Conformity’ by Sheffield-based artist John Wilkinson

So this year has begun with me working with a group of artists on an exciting project which, at least in my life, promises to be something quite special.

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) will be taking place at the Wakefield Redshed, and the Sheffield-based Gage gallery between 8-14 August 2016. A event centering around a film and an exhibition, it will also include talks and performances at both venues.

We need all the support you have to make this project be as special as it promises to be!

Please find the Crowdfunder located below.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/embedded

Here’s a little about what Fighting For Crumbs is all about…

In November of 2015, the group the Sleaford Mods starred in an independent film examining the lives and homes of the majority that were being systemically ignored in this brutally austere but paradoxically aspirational age of David Cameron. Invisible Britain’ was screened nationally, yet it seemed to focus much of its energy on towns once at the centre of the Yorkshire mining heartlands.

2016 marks the 50th birthday of The Redshed, also known as The Labour club. Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire city of Wakefield, the place is somewhat unique, and has defiantly resisted the capitalist forces that have penetrated nearly everything else around it. A year-long line-up of events are now marking this anniversary.

Sandra Hutchinson, a lifelong supporter of the club, spoke of how The Redshed began at the height of the social and political changes happening in the 1960’s. In-spite of the seismic troubles around the world, it was an age of political optimism, and there was a strong belief that things could be and would be changed.

“THERE IS A PREVAILING SENSE OF PARALYSIS AND DEFEAT ALL ACROSS EX-INDUSTRIAL BRITAIN. AND THIS PARTICULARLY EFFECTS THE YOUNG WHO HAVE NOT KNOWN ANYTHING ELSE” JD TAYLOR

The Invisible Britain documentary addresses this political climate; an age of deep political pessimism. A sense of defeat clings to the streets of our congealed conurbations. A depressed, and broken spirit hangs over us, instructing us to abandon the world we live in and find happiness in loneliness.

The huge support that propelled Jeremy Corbyn from relative obscurity to leader of the Labour Party, seemed to be more a WILLING for a return of a political optimism. Wanting it, because it’s not here.

Five MORE Years... (2015)

Fighting for Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is the stories of artists who are striving for nothing but raw artistic expression at a time when we’re all being forced to strive for ‘crumbs, where wages are low, and the market dictates creativity.

It’s not so much stories of poverty-stricken artists. It’s about artists working within the crumbling remains of the Britain’s post-settlement optimism.

Under the “keep calm and carry on” mantra of Tory rule, more and more artists are feeling pressured to head into more craft-based activities.

Although this is not a critique of the crafts itself, how can an art SAY when it’s trying so hard to SELL?

What value does the truth of artistic expression have in such times? Have we been reduced to fighting for crumbs?

BROKEN BRITAIN IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. IT’S ABSOLUTELY SMASHED TO PIECES” INVISIBLE BRITAIN, 2O15

 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/x/13528122#/

Hunger Games Darwinism

Hunger Games Darwinism (2016, mixed media on paper)

Hunger Games Darwinism (900x1280)

Everything I’ve Done in 2015

It’s pretty unlikely I’ll get anything else done this year now, as I’ve hit my New Year-period wall prematurely, from which I can never imagine the possibility of making anything new again – until I make something new again. Perhaps I do my own yearly roundups because I somehow feel that I’m unjustifiably forgotten about. When I regain my bearings from the egotistical gravel pit, I recognise that it’s likely over 90% of us feel this way. But all the same, no choice but to play The Game.

So here’s a list, in a more or chronological order, of the best bits of what I have done in 2015; and believe me, there’s a lot of bits I’d rather regret. Regarding the visual works, I feel THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM is my strongest piece, both in visuals and title, it’s the best attempt I’ve made all year of interlinking all the problems of today indirectly back to the dominant political agenda.


January 2015

Cynicism Has Had It’s Day


What is Ugly Anyway?


Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record in London

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February 2015

Surfaces of an Unrealised World

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 March 2015

Not Humanly Possible (A4, ink on paper)

Not Humanly Possible

Not Humanly Possible

A Cognitive Austerity (A4, ink on paper)

A Cognitive Austerity  (2015)

A Cognitive Austerity


Another Lonely Night, Stare at TV Screen


April 2015

Stories From Forgotten Space


May 2015

Lost Bus Routes and Pre-Election Rambles from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Five MORE Years… (A4, ink on paper)

Five MORE Years... (2015)

five MORE years…

“I am Here (a Lost Work From 2009)


June 2015

THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM (125x100cm, mixed media on paper)

The Long Night of a Needless Storm

close up 6

Close up 1

THE LONG NIGHT OF A NEEDLESS STORM


“Hardworking Tax-payers, Inconvenienced” (A4, ink on paper)

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“Hardworking Taxpayers, Inconvenienced”


Pain is Barred an Outlet (A4, ink on paper)

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Pain is Barred an Outlet


July 2015

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (A4, ink on paper)

Sad, LONELY, Frightened 001

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened”


Stories From Forgotten Space (book)

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Everybody’s Fracking (95X130cm, mixed media on paper)

Everybody's Fracking

Everybody’s Fracking

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This Is Not a Top Song List: My Life Through Joy Division Tracks


August 2015

The Self [ie] Under Siege  (A4, mixed media on paper)

The Self [ie] Under Siege - By John Ledger

The Self [ie] Under Siege


Lost Summers

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Interview for Art Saves Lives magazine


OneNationTory (2015)

OneNat

OneNationTory


September 2015

“Can We Stop Now, Please?” (A4, mixed media on paper)

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“Can We Stop Now, Please?”


The Big Smoke (and Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Images from Voices From The Wilderness exhibition (Sheffield)


Images from Strange Bedfellows exhibition (Barnsley)


October 2015

Manchester and The Morning After (Stories From Forgotten Space) from john Ledger on Vimeo.


Nothing New Under Digital Rain

Untitled


November 2015

Debtland (2015, 110X77cm, mixed media on paper)

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Debtland

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Friday’s Anguish


Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day (explanation here)

Rubber Ring. Gimme Shelter - Copy

Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day


Sounds that made up my year…

“the rotten soil of nowhere land”

Tears For Fears – The Hurting (Demo version)

Zomby – Where Were U in 92′

Real McCoy – Runaway (Tory election victory-sting-soother)

The Fall – Frightened

New Order – The Village

Goat – Let it Bleed/Gathering of Ancient Tribes

Sleaford Mods – Double Diamond

Wu Tang Clan  – C.R.E.A.M

Sleaford Mods – Mcflurry

Sleaford Mods – Jobseeker

Sleaford Mods – Tied up in Notts

DMS – vengeance

Sleaford Mods – Teacher Faces Porn Charges

Rufige Kru – Menace

Congress – 40 Miles

Chumbawumba – Tubthumping

Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out

The Chameleons – Don’t Fall/Second Skin – (again)

Reflections on Voices From The Wilderness

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Thanks to everybody who came down last night to my and John Wilkinson’s opening of our exhibition Voices From The Wilderness. We both felt it was well attended, and the evening was full of conversations engaging in the subject of the works, and how and why and John Wilkinson’s works potentially work well together. (The exhibition is open 11-4pm, until 2nd October)

I thought the fact we both place an utmost importance on the work title’s being visible next to the works gave us a common ground in our motivations for making and exhibiting our works. We also agreed that our works shared a similarity in that they both present human landscapes that initially look chaotic to the eye, only to slowly come together more as an organised chaos, dealt out by the dynamics/forces of the system that drives the world. Personally, it was really nice to finally show my video-work The Mary Celeste Project (The Scene of Crash) next to my drawings.

I also feel it’s important to add that we have another opening on Friday 25 September, where a collection of talented spoken word and sound artists will play in the gallery space.

The event will start at 7pm, with Gav Roberts opening at 7.15, followed by Liz Ferrets and Kevin Titterton. At about 8pm we will have a noise performance by SW1-Hunter.

SW1-Hunter is Adam Denton, who is one half Trans/Human.
Trans/Human began life at The Audacious Art Experiment in Sheffield in 2011.
Around that time John Ledger and Adam Denton would discuss many of the themes explored and rendered in John’s work. For the performance tonight SW1-Hunter draws on these fragments of history and its impact on the construction of a/the self.

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The Long Night of a Needless Storm

Feverish

Sad, LONELY, Frightened 001

Two Upcoming Exhibitions

From mid-September to early October the main body of the last 4 years of my artwork will be stretched between two exhibitions of a quite different nature.

11800002_1627123337560392_755793731947607952_nThe first exhibition begins at 6:30pm on Friday 18 September, at Gage Gallery in Sheffield. I will be exhibiting in this large space alongside John Wilkinson, a painter whose work is more than certainly both as narrative-heavy as my own, and as critically engaged with the current state of play. I look forward to seeing how our two styles work together, whether this adds any further depth/dimension to way our works are viewed when exhibited as solo artist shows.

The exhibition will run to October 1st, 11-4PM

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, S3 8DB

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On Tuesday 28 September I will be part of a show consisting of a group of 5 artists all from/ or with strong links to the town of Barnsley. The exhibition will be called Strange Bedfellows, due to the contrasting styles and approaches in making of those involved. What joins us together is our connection to Barnsley, and a desire to see a celebration of a selection of its visual artists.

I will be exhibiting alongside Rory Garforth, Terry Brookes, Rob Nunns, Elizabeth Sinkova

Additionally, we will be holding a evening opening event on Friday 2 October. Where prints/artists’ merchandise will be donated to a fundraiser in support of local foodbanks. This is followed by a connected Vinyl Underground music event across the road at The No7 pub.

@Contemporary Gallery, 2-4 The Arcade, Barnsley

Free Entry

Tues 28 Sept – Weds 7 Oct

10:00 – 16:00