Here’s a creative Covid19 Journey by Disability Equality North West.
How’s your lockdown been? What’s inspired you? What’s challenged you? How have you changed? What are your hopes for the future?
Am very happy to be part of this with Explore York that is hear from people about their experience of lockdown and make sense of the very strange year that 2020 has become. We are asking people in York to send us poems and drawings that we will use to create a lasting record of what has happened in our lives. The project is called World Turned Upside Down 2020 #haiflu edition.
See here for more details of the project and how to get involved.
York is one of eight areas taking part in, ‘Bags of Creativity’, which will distribute 8000 bags to children and young people in Yorkshire and Humber. Each bag includes 60 creative activity postcards and a range of arty materials. See more here.
I provided the following three postcard designs to be included in these #bagsofcreativity.
Cyanotype print and acrylic on calico, eight 2 x 0.6 metre panels, plus audio visual spoken word summary piece.
Alun Kirby and Stephen Lee Hodgkins, 2020.
Drawing on material from the Explore York archive this piece presents five local historical moments, within a theme of ‘crime and punishment’. Four of these moments are highlighted with example fonts from a specimen book produced by York’s Delittle Wood Type Manufacturer. A fifth moment is presented using a woodcut print taken from an account of the trial and execution of James Moseley and William Roberts in 1822. This piece is one of three banners created for Explore York, one focused on how we came to have a free library in York and another on a history of protest in York.
Game – Following his execution for highway robbery in 1792, Spence Broughton’s body was displayed in a gibbet until the 1820s. A letter he wrote to his wife on the eve of his death, in which he pleads for her to warn their children of the baneful vice of gaming, was mass printed as a form of criminal deterrent propaganda.
Bounder – Entry in the York Castle Prison Goalers Journal on 25th March 1852 describing the attempted escape by several prisoners. The Goaler records, whilst transporting 14 prisoners by train to the ‘Wakefield House of Correction’, a scuffle and a convict by the name of ‘Ellis’ jumping from the train.
Desired – Edward Rayer and Thomas Sykes charged with having on 2nd July 1843 last, at Halifax, in West Riding, feloniously, wickedly and diabolically committed an offence against the order of nature. The couple were found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to death.
Quack – Account of the commissioning in 1652 and installation by Edmund Giles of a ducking stool at the ‘Crane House’ Skeldergate, York.
Woodcut print – Taken from an account of the trial and execution of James Moseley and William Roberts for murder and highway robbery in 1822.
Delittle Wood type specimen book – A catalogue of various wood type examples produced by the Delittle Wood type manufacturer in York. The catalogue includes a random array of unrelated and somewhat obscure words, icons and border designs.
‘What do you hope for the future said the Reindeer?’ (2019)
‘What do you hope for the future said the Reindeer?’ was created with children from Park Grove Academy Class 7 and 9 who painted and assembled parts of the reindeer, printing a word on each in response to the question ‘what do you hope for the future?’.
The children gave responses that are both thoughtful and hopeful. They then read and audio recorded these words, which can be heard in random order at the press of the red button.
The ‘Reindeer’, ‘Magpie’ and ‘Ox’ were previous pubs in The Groves area which were mentioned by interviewees in a recent ‘consultation and oral history’ report commissioned by the City of York council as part of the current Groves regeneration project.
The plan is to create further pieces of a Magpie and an Ox with others in the Groves, and from this work up an Aesops fable style story based on these characters, imagining positively as we do so what sort of community future we want.
Recently I worked with the Joyful Connections group who meet at St Luke’s Church in Burton Stone Lane. Together we created the following lino cut portrait ‘group print’ piece.
Beginning with smiley photos we digitally traced and transferred the images onto lino.
Next while chatting about ‘what makes us happy and well?’ We carved out the faces in the lino. Once carved, on a large and colourful sheet we printed the happy faces.Then using a old wooden typeset, from the Delittle wood type foundary of York, part of the things we said while chatting about ‘what makes us happy and well’ were printed around the faces.
This includes things like ‘this is a friendly place’, ‘if anything goes wrong, people come round you, they surround you’, ‘I keep positive, cos there’s still an awful lot of people to annoy’ and ‘there’s a strong sense of comradeship, community here’. Then once dry, the piece was framed for the group.Joyful connections is a cracking group. Such a remarkably happy and supportive network, for more details of them see here.
In March 19, I was fortunate enough to have an interview for the role of ‘York’s Town Crier’. While I did not get the job, part of the interview process was to prepare a ‘cry’, and so this is what I said, quite loudly outside the council office one cold friday in March .
A pdf version of the above is available here too.
Typically when towns and cities create visual skyline banners they include the places most popular with tourists. While this can be good for getting people to visit it does not always include those places that hold important meaning to the often diverse and disparate local communities. Banners, web headers and posters of York are no different, presenting the usual suspects of the York Minister, Cliffords Tower, the city walls and its various gates and bars. However, for the York’s local communities there are other places of much more personal and collective meaning. These are many and include a range of hidden place based gems, as is featured in this piece.
People of York were asked; What is community? What does it mean to you? What does York’s Community Skyline look like? What community places and spaces are important to you? From this several places were suggested and linocuts made of each;
St Luke’s Church on Burton Stone Lane, nominated for the community café and various groups they put on, with also a reference to York FC floodlights as many people also highlighted the importance of sports and fitness clubs as important ‘communities’.
Priory Street Centre, as a hub of voluntary sector activity, and including the hosting of many diverse organisations.
The Reading Café at Rowntree Park, to represent the many Explore libraries as well as Parks of York.
The Central Methodist Church on St Saviourgate, not with specific reference to the church, but rather organisations such as Kyra Womens Project and Carecent, a breakfast centre for all homeless, unemployed or otherwise socially excluded members of our community
Folk Hall and New Earswick for its strong community, including Nelli (New Earswick Less Loneliness Initiative), CAN (Community Action for Nature) and NEST (New Earswick Sharing Together).
York Mosque at Bull Lane to reflect the range of faiths celebrated in York
St Nicks Nature Reserve, appreciating the many great outdoor community spaces in York.
Using the linocuts two pop art style ‘group prints’ were facilitated. One at St Luke’s Church with people attending the Friday activities, and a second at Priory Street, at a People Helping People event.
During the ‘group prints’ people were encouraged to add key words about what community meant to them using a letter print stamp set made from handwriting samples collected visitors of York Explore Library. This font highlights the unique shapes people express when making marks, and the wonderfully distinct style of when they come together.
Be Part Find Shelter Join In Love Play is a collective piece that reflects on the subjective meanings of ‘community’. This can relate to identity, but also to interest. It can be about where you are, but also where you want to go. And we are not just part of one, but rather we connect and move between many communities through our shared ideas, experiences and preferences.
– by Stephen Lee Hodgkins, for Live Well York, July 2018.
Group print is a fast paced low tech participatory method that can help capture the experiences and perspectives of a place based community. The approach values and emphasises the importance of everyone’s involvement, and combines place based icons with emotive key words from participants, in response to questions like what is community? Or what does the library mean to you? Group print creates co-produced art pieces that capture everyday diversity as well as highlighting the social interconnectedness of people and place. The above images show the process and end results from previous group prints I have been part of.