Saturday, 23 July 2016

YOUR Freedom (2016)

YOUR Freedom (95X125cm, mixed media on paper, 2016)

‘YOUR Freedom’ is my latest work, and will feature in the Wakefield Redshed part of the group show Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain).










Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity

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).

A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried (2016)

A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried (2016, mixed media on A3)

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I don’t know when you could say such a time began (maybe at some point during the past decade or even earlier?), but I sense we are overdue some grieving time. And that’s because our civilisation (specifically our faith in a capitalist model – one based on exponential growth – to bring well-being and prosperity) has died. Grief is a natural process in order that we can rehabilitate so as to move on to the next stage of life, but it has been emphatically denied us. Its existence has been denied, and the denial has been played out in a turbo-charging forwards with the persistence of now-dead beliefs. And look at the pain that it is causing; to be forced to work harder for something deep down we know is not only going nowhere, but is in a process of perpetual deterioration. It has made knowing-zombies out us, an anxious-undead, clutching our Iphones, trying to climb out of the daily dread. But it has to give-way at some point. More and more of us are suffering under the psychological strain of knowing we will have to work harder and harder for diminishing returns from a dead/dying system, and all around you can see people cracking up. Nobody knows what this outcome will finally lead to, but there is potential for a rebuilding, not so much physically, but culturally. However, right now we are in need of an healing process.
This work will feature in the Wakefield Redshed section of Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain
Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.
The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity
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).

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)



Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity.

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).

Songs For My Punchdrunk Idealism

Life under late capitalism is essentially one of managing the nihilizing comedowns that guide you towards dead-end pleasure seeking as the sun goes down. That’s if you can’t/ won’t/don’t know how to (delete as applicable) buy into a lifestyle bubble, and have no buffer from the pain of the vacuum that it allows the wealth of life to rive and tear in agony within.

The working day is now so seamlessly wrapped up with leisure time, that pockets of contemplation about what lies beyond the here and now are often nowhere to be seen.

But they do exist.

I have a selection of songs that I’ve been listening to for over a decade now, the raise my Utopianist impulses out of the mud, and prop them up in defiance. They are songs that speak about the world, the people, a lost communist ideal. At least, they do for me.











Thursday, 30 June 2016

England’s Nervous Breakdown

Lost for words
 
…not strictly, but they are wrapped up in a thick cloud of confusion and contradiction. But I’m putting out there EXACTLY how I’m feeling in the wake of last week’s referendum vote.

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Sheffield, 25 June 2016

 
Is this the nervous breakdown of a country? It’s becoming an unavoidable truth that what I’ve seen happening over the past few years has gone into overdrive since 23.06.2016. People around me having some sort of meltdown – something I suspect is happening because the strain and the pain of DECADES of Thatcherite Britain has suddenly become unbearable. Brexit, like it or not, seems to have worked it like an accidental alarm-switch.
 
Was Brexit an unexpected exercise of a country’s nervous breakdown, long overdue? And was this unexpected exercise the last, skewed, but true exercise of democracy we had left?

It is without doubt that there are people in places around the world enduring a hell the English (as this is mainly regarding the English) cannot imagine. But has this country, the first capitalist country on earth, finally broke down under the experience of late capitalism? Has life under this faded-glory-stained neoliberal project hit saturation point?

Last week I was off work, but, after failing to set up a postal/proxy vote, I wasn’t confidently care-free enough to miss voting. So I decided to spend my days off work heading a bit further than usual. It seemed the right thing to do upon a terrain that could, so to speak, be shifting under my feet.
 
On Tuesday I cycled all the way from Barnsley to York (exhausted, dehydrated, thus all the more porous to the Northern Europe-like feel to North/East Yorks – the red-tile rooftops could convince you there was no body of sea between Yorkshire and Denmark). YORVIK . On Wednesday I went to London, endured a far-more than customary level of alienation at Frustration at the all-out ‘Remain’ consensus congregating around the Kings Cross-based leafleters (even though I voted Remain myself). I felt wounded and inarticulate in a London that felt self-congratulatory-soaked in something that was promoting a cause that had no idea of the type of wounding I was feeling, a wounding I KNOW I’m not the only one feeling, because the wounds are slumped in the city’s streets corners when it bothers to acknowledge them. An anger rising up through the drains of Thatcherite Britain.

But I had too many friends with too many SENSIBLE reasons to vote Remain and too many frightening reasons not to vote Leave for me to take such a reckless leap for the cause of the anger I’ve been feeling for so long now. And on Friday morning I was stunned into inertia just like everybody else.

Aren’t we all lost right now? Heads boiling with a million voices all at once. Looking for blame victims. But I won’t blame 17 million leave voters by calling them stupid or racist. Calling people stupid for what for them is a genuine concern leads to nowhere, except a self-congratulatory flurry of Facebook ‘likes’.

“The Cunt with the gut and the Buzz Light-year haircut…calling all the workers plebs” (The Sleaford Mods)



In recent British history nothing has been as divisive as the destruction of the working class base, built over years of struggle, fucked over by Thatcher, and the market fundamentalism then driven between us all. Yet we overlook ‘the war between all’ conjured by this, and we parrot the words of a more affluent less trapped metropolitan elite for whom issues of race and gender are solely moral issues, and nothing to do with class stratification. The result is what you see in the video above. A top down, media perspective, which doesn’t even need to be based in London to be London-centric, looking at all those intolerant, stupid places like Barnsley -cherry picking the mixed up and politically incorrect voices.“Oh why, oh why can’t they be like us decent London Folk?” A slowly bubbling rage.

“I work my dreams off for two bits of ravioli and a warm bottle of Smirnoff “



So, these places where the majority voted ‘Leave’ – what do we do with these people who refused to do “the right thing”?

In 2015 the documentary Invisible Britain followed the music group the Sleaford Mods on a tour of towns not on the ‘cool-list’. Not just ignored by other music groups but also by the London-centred gaze of society. Invisible Britain is perhaps the only contemporary documentation of the great ignored that hasn’t stuck to a preconceived, condescending stereotype, laden with mockery or contempt. Expensively-educated Sacha Baron-Cohen springs to mind…

When you hear the Sleaford Mods, the lyricist Jason Williamson’s anger, if you ask me, is like a momentary placing of the head back on the shoulders of the decapitated and disempowered body of working class rage. Williamson’s seething anger at the alienation and humiliation of a contemporary life experience many can relate to gives a voice to this rage when the world is made to feel so unaccountably chaotic that the only tools for understanding it available are tools to blame yourself with for the hell that surrounds you. But, as the film states, they are still largely a lone voice.

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Manchester, 24 June 2016


That which informs racist anger isn’t born out of fresh air. Nor can those who spout it vanish into fresh air  – which is what I often feel many on the diminishing liberal class long for. Out of mind out of sight.
What do you do with these people, then? “Get rid of the buggers? “. Create two separate States?  One called ‘London‘, for the ‘tolerant’ ‘open-minded’ folks and ‘the rest‘? Actually, doesn’t this petition already exist?  The ‘I’m alright Jack-multiculturalism’ mantra conceals an hidden contempt.
 
The Leave result has clearly blown everything else out of the water. And as denial against it kicks in, the truth of what has simmered underneath the seeming tolerance and liberalism of the past few decades is coming out. It’s nasty, and I’m sorry to say the most upsetting things aren’t just coming from ‘racist idiots’ but from the younger section of the Remain supporters, chatting away in the cooler parts of town. Behind the ‘coolness’, their inherited social Thatcherism is rearing its ugly fucking head. Their contempt isn’t for the migrants, it’s for Britain’s socially immobile who will “probably never leave their home town never mind live in another country” (actually heard!). It’s an hidden hatred for the existence of those who “clearly haven’t tried hard enough to better themselves” and join aspirational and cosmopolitan Britain. It’s not a contempt for people from other countries, it’s a contempt for the working class of this country, and it’s equally toxic – if not more due to its invisibility.

I’m sorry to say this but they may have just sunken your cosmopolitan dreamboat…

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London, 22.06.2016


I can’t help but be convinced that, even though what evidently galvanised the victory for Brexit was a deep concern about immigration, the anger isn’t really meant for immigrants, but for the ruling class of this country, as inarticulate as the anger was. As self-harming as Brexit could potentially be to everyday people – it’s an anger about being ignored, overlooked and even looked down upon. And I’m not saying I don’t now find it all scary as fuck.

The same present day top-down reasoning bemoans the ‘loutish’ English for their seeming preference to take to throwing chairs and punches at other football fans than taking to the streets like the French. But after nearly 40 years of destruction of class consciousness and a narrowing of political horizons,  creating a state of stuckness that Mark Fisher calls ‘reflexive impotence’,  Brexit is a seismic working class revolt, even if it ends turning against the working classes.

The Ignored is geographical in nature, but it is fundamentally underpinned by class.

“The sorrows we suffered and never were free” Decades, Joy Division

In an article looking at why white working class children,  out of all ethnic communities, perform so poorly in the school exams they sit before joining the adult world, Paul Mason says that “Thatcherism didn’t just crush the unions, it crushed a story”. Far from pitting different working classes against others, Mason looks at what happened to a specific story. This was a story of a long history of struggle, from the satanic mills and mines of the 18/19th century, towards an increasingly equal and better country for the working class, propped up on paternalism and solidarity. But, he adds, “suppress paternalism and solidarity for one generation and you create multigenerational ignorance and poverty”.

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The Vale of York. 21.06.2016

Left to endure the hell of ‘prole-life’ with no explanation to the pain felt, or meaning to guide you through it, it’s clear that migrants, who are nearly always thrown into the very same Ignored-lands, are mistaken as being the cause of this pain rather than being effects of the pain being felt.
 
After 30 years of misdirected rage towards the neighbours, the headless zombie of working class rage reacts in a destructive manner. I’m not saying what has just happened is a good thing by any stretch of the imagination, but the limits of my own imagination saw that something like this was bound to happen in the UK at some point. The cause for either a leftwing Remain or Leave were not being heard because they appealed to how they thought people should think rather than how they actually felt.
 
In a competitive world everybody wants to speak, but nobody wants to listen.
 
A Psychic Timebomb (2013)
A Psychic Timebomb (2013)

Blair and Cameron’s  Britain…so much to answer for…
… a Negative Hedonistic Britain
Humiliation. Aimlessness. Shame. Anxiety. Anger. Dead-end pleasure-seeking.
Drink to take the edge off the pain. Drink to run away from the pain. Drink to locate the nature of the pain. Drink to find a way out of the pain.
Sooner or later you can’t see anything else. And I’m not even alcoholic –  I just can’t deal with it all once the sun goes down.
I’ll be honest, I’ve hit a point in my life where I don’t think I can carry on in this manner much longer….I’m hearing you England.
Regarding the past ten years I can’t yet express the pain at the deep regret at the world I’m supposed to function in. It bursts out in drunken self destruction- it’d be articulated in sober tears if I hadn’t become so walled up over the years.
“Keep calm and carry on”.

It’s very hard not to internalise negativity. After all, it’s encouraged by a process that has seen this island become increasingly private and lonely over the past few decades.
“Feeling uneasy? then stick your headphones in and drift into private inertia”.

But with each passing post-2010-year I’m finding that what I thought was MY Story – that my struggle with depression has felt to have been caused by a loss, and REVERSAL of a sense that the world was becoming and fairer, more tolerant, less cruel place –  was actually lots of other peoples’ too. It’s just that it was experienced in loneliness. It turns out that through the last decades of the 20th century many of us thought the millennium would be the harbinger of something better, and the cost on general well-being from the reversal of this conviction must be so huge.

Post-Rave. Post Britpop. Post Binge-drink Britain… what next?
 
And so to Friday 24 June…
 
As my train traveled through Manchester, and as a country tries to function after the morning’s news, I look up at the hills that circulate the world’s first modern city. This is a nervous breakdown!  It sort of comforts me in some odd sense, because I feel like I’ve been heading towards one for a long time, and it looks like the rest of the country has found its rightful place beside me for this mass collective breakdown. Things could get very dark very quickly, if the racist incidents being caught on film are anything to go by, but I’m in a Kate Bush-methadone right now, as I listen to a slightly slowed-down version of her Wuthering Heights. It seems to always stir a deep conviction of there being something better beyond, for which the pennines (whichever side of the pennines) seem to become a more than adequate threshold to. Some of us can’t give up on Utopia.
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Barnsley. 27.06.2016


LET IT BLEED…
 
Hearing that the English national football team had lost to a country with the same population as the Wakefield District (and  I think the problem is mainly just about England),  it felt like a symbolic act of surrender on a much larger scale. The country needs to collapse into a weeping mess, because if it pretends it isn’t having a nervous breakdown than the pain will just be extended and aggravated. Let this ‘pumped up’ ego-bloated nation, deluded about its place in the world, deflate, otherwise the pain will intensify.

This is as much a note to my easily beaten self as anything, but: right now, in the midst of what currently seems Dystopian, let’s not be swayed by the common rhetoric over the foolishness of Utopian dreams.Beneath my pathos, the pain I showcase idiotically at times is a unflinching dream of that better world.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Under Digital Rain (in photos)

Here are photographs of my exhibition ‘Under Digital Rain’,  curated by John Wright. Held at the Bowery Gallery, Headingley, Leeds, it runs until 29th July.

Gallery opening times
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

54 Otley Road
Headingley
Leeds
LS6 2AL


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The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)
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Title of work below: £$[We]€$[Can’t]$£[Take]£€[Any]$€[More!!]$£ (2016)
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Titles of works in image below (from left to right): Gimme Shelter [Closure No1] (2015); The Self[ie] Under Siege (2015); “Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (2015); Drainage System (2016); Tired of Life/I Want to Leave Myself [Closure No2] (2016); NoteToSelf2016; The Capacity to Care (Closure No5) (2016); A Cognitive Austerity (2015); A Deep Paralysis (2016); Hunger Games Darwinism (2016); Bound up in Binary (2016); “Can We Stop now, Please?”; I am Becoming Nothing (Closure No3) (2015).
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The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)
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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Under Digital Rain (New Show in Leeds)


So this week I am showing my work in Under Digital Rain, a show curated by John Wright, alongside artist Alexandra Gallagher’s Humanity’s Intellectual World, at Bowery Gallery in Headingley Leeds.

My part of the exhibition will feature a number of new works, including a large mural installation called The World Wide OneUpmanship.
  
Under Digital Rain is part of an ongoing project (dialogue?) between myself and John Wright called The Retro Bar at the End of Universe, and on the opening night this coming Friday we will be performing our piece Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record, inspired by an Ivor Southwood book of the same name.

Friday, 13 May 2016

A Deep Paralysis

 A Deep Paralysis (2016, A4, mixed media on paper)


This is probably the last piece of work to be finished that will feature in a joint exhibition with artist Alexandra Gallagher @ The Bowery, Headingley, Leeds, next week. Alexandra Gallagher’s section will be titled ‘Humanity’s Intellectual World’. My side of the exhibition is titled ‘Under Digital Rain’ and is curated by John Wright – as part of an ongoing project we are engaged in called The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe

 

21st May – 29 July 20-6pm each day
PERFORMANCE & PREVIEW
20th May 6-8pm
John Ledger and curator John Write presents an interactive performance to engage and enhance Ledger’s wall drawings.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

‘Rot_in_Silence_2016’


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’



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.
 
https://www.indiegogo.com/project/dispossession-the-great-social-housing-swindle–3/embedded/13528122
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.

Thanks: John

One YEAR Back…

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

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.
Five MORE Years... (2015)
Five More Years... (ink on paper)























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…
 
https://www.indiegogo.com/project/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/embedded/13528122

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.

 Cheers: John

Work in Progress...

Currently working on this piece for a show, Leeds-way, in Mid-May

Monday, 25 April 2016

Upcoming…

From May 21 to July 29 I will be exhibiting in The Bowery, a gallery situated in the Headingley area of Leeds, alongside artist Alexandra Gallagher.
More details will be shared promptly…

£$[We]€$[Can’t]$£[Take]£€[Any]$€[More!!]$£ web large

Friday, 22 April 2016

Fighting for Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)

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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:

Source: Fighting for Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)

Drainage System

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

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Our Crowdfunder Campaign



the imposition of conformity
The Imposition of Conformity by John Wilkinson

















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

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

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Capacity to Care (Closure No5)

The Capacity to Care (Closure No5), 2016, A4, ink on paper

The Capacity to Care (1370x2000)

 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.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Not For A Long Long Time (2)

Not For a Long Long Time

Actions from another time

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If the so-called ‘age of austerity’ had begun by this point, I was only just able to taste it on my tongue. A claustrophobia (or an intensified version of what came previous) specific to this age ensued. And I hope I’ve already stressed on this blog how it feels that the gravest of issues threatening the basics needed to have a habitable planet seem to have been pushed further from grasp by a social climate that has necessitated an economically-debunked, ecologically-disastrous unhappy selfishness. What I mean is that just when all logic pointed us one way, the ruling agenda has hurtled us into a more fucking messed up take on all that came before.

And what I’m really talking about is that back in 2009, 2010, the issues that really ought to mean the most to me did mean the most to me, before I got embroiled in this day in day out self-preservation battle; one I foolishly didn’t anticipate due to a conviction that just ‘doing my own thing’ would suffice as a soul-saver – with no acclimatizing to social norms required for formulaic sexual attraction so necessary. But under all the will to help the world, I was never ‘the quiet man’ – always too easily swayed but the things I wished I wasn’t swayed by’. It caught up, and like Canute I just stood there.

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Where did all the Caring go?
 
But that doesn’t mean I won’t prise out the courage to care again; I’m still inhaling and exhaling on this planet, and I still rest my words around the argument that it isn’t inevitable for our species to fuck it up, well-and-truly.

Here are some photos of a woodland slowly emerging from the trees I planted down the banking of the A637/ as South and West Yorkshire join together. I planted them over a succession of Wednesday’s in 2009, 2010, 2011, on my way to pick up my wage from my nearby workplace. I must have planted well over 50 trees (mainly oak) that are still growing.

I’m not saying my acts of guerrilla tree planting were doing anything more than acting as a gesture that I hoped would be spotted by others. But the very impulse I had to do this in the first place proves a fidelity to a wish that we could steer this defunct, insufficient vessel of western civilisation to a reasonable safe place build anew. And I know that sounds sort of religious, but this was one of many ‘artistic’ actions that stemmed from an initially-teenage inability to deal with the nihilism of accepting a world where we couldn’t save ourselves, and where the only aternative was to ‘make sure you have a good time before you turn the lights out’ – an offensive philosophy to anyone who finds/found something of contemporary life intolerable.

But, regardless of all that, these photos here show a bunch of trees that may grow into a woodland. Something my younger self should be angry about his older self not considering enough!

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