There’s a few things my beloved ex industrial northern hometown lacks for sure. We’re a poor town with tattoo parlours and kebab shops dominating the once prosperous high streets.
It’s hard to sell art in Donny but that doesn’t stop the manifestation of artists and artworks here. The Brevan and 12a (closed 2013) are waving the banner high for art and the creative spirit. This gives me hope for some-kind of art world or art scene.
Moving back to Doncaster in 2010, I noted this change in the air, brought about by opening of these new contemporary galleries. During this time I was working closely with photographer Guliem Landry for French national Newspaper the Lemonde, the story was about “Broken Britan” focusing on Doncaster in 1984 revisiting it 20 years on. We explored the usual haunts of the town centre the Market place, the Minster etc, in contrast to these typical land marks, I wanted to show off how art was making a positive impact on our town. We visited the 12a Gallery, took a taxi out to Bentley to photograph Mike Bunn’s abstract sculptural tribute to the areas mining history. Mike was my lecturer at Doncaster College from 2002-2003 and has since become a mentor, he is also a miners’ son and I am fascinated by the creative heritage born out of ex-mining provinces such as Bentley and my home village of Conisbrough.
We stood at the “Monument” embracing Doncaster’s changing future under the banner of “Broken Britain” and the deep social economic hardships faced by people trying to make ends-meat in the landscape beyond us. Lemonde published the article on the 3rd of February in 2010 the headline read “Quelque Chose de Casse a Doncaster” roughly translated “Something Broke in Doncaster”.
I was disappointed with the bleak reality the article painted, I was searching for my creative Doncaster and for hope somewhere in the apathy.
Soon after Mike Bunn got in touch to offer me the opportunity of a studio space at Doncaster College for free on an informal Fellowship basis, my plan was to stay in Doncaster to the end of the summer then move on to greener art lands elsewhere.
I’m still here.
I’ve found my home. Bringing together other creative art gems glittering in the post-industrial grime. snobbishly, I thought you only met these sorts of people outside of places like Doncaster , I was wrong.
Around the same time I wrote this poem.
There is Hope.
“Give me a future” the child cried in 84.
Then the poor little troubled soul was thrown upon the scrapheap.
“We are the flowers in your dustbin” declared the child.
As he drank a bottle of White Star cider,
On a former pit-tip,
Under a dark battleship grey sky.
“I have to deal with the chavs” she said.
In a very nice R.P, privately educated accent.
Whilst the white working class who once cried “workers of the world unite”:
Float aimlessly in the fat bloated belly of capitalism.
And there they rot they rot,
And there is hope for hope.
But the seeds of defeat run deep.