How you BEAN?

Some old neighbours names carved on bricks –  Stephen Lee Hodgkins, 2022.

Just behind York’s ‘Bile Bean’ Ghost sign on Lord Mayors walk is Monk Bar car park. These bricks were recovered in late 2021 from a hole being dug there.

The hole was dug to install some electrical car charging points. The bricks were revealed as if once part of the foundations of a house wall.  Previously, this area was not a car park, but the many terraced homes of Newbiggin Street and Groves Lane. 

‘Cook’s York Directory of 1922’, published by the Yorkshire Gazette Newspaper held at Explore York Library and Archive, list some of the names of people living in those streets at that time.

Brayshaw, Christina ANNE.  20 Groves Lane.

BEAN, William. 17 Newbiggin Street.

TATE, Sarah Elizabeth. 19 Groves Lane.

WARD, Tom. 24 Groves Lane. 

I have walked along Groves Lane many times not really thinking about it as a street of homes where families and folk lived, worked and played some 100 years ago. But these bricks possibly were part of the homes, or their neighbours’ homes that these people and their families lived in.

I wonder who these people were, what they were like and what life was like for them. What made them laugh, what made them cry? Did they know each other and what they might have said to one another when going about their everyday lives. Did they ask how each other, how they had been? And what were their replies? 

I am now wondering about who might, in 2122, 100 years from now, be walking down Groves Lane, what they will be like, how might they live and where they might be going?


Some #visual minutes and a report summary from a workshop on Loneliness held in early 2022.

A Big Draw to Remember

In October 2021, to coincide with the Big Draw festival, and in the run up to Remembrance Day 2021, I worked with York Army Museum to facilitate ‘A Big Draw to Remember’. Within the Museum, alongside military memorabilia and human stories from service and war, we stretched out a 7 metre paper canvas upon the officers mess table and around an elaborate silver centre piece.

Over the week of 23rd to 30th October people were invited to come along and add poppies and doodles and statements to the piece. We provided a ‘how to guide to doodling a poppy’.

This included contributions from York Normandy Veterans, Sid and Ken, the relatives of John Cunningham VC, a great great grandson of Captain Oats, friends and families of loved ones that have served, those in active service from a variety of regiments and units, and even the Lord and Lady Mayor of York.

The result is a multiple of poppies, reflections and statements that honour the efforts of those that have, and do serve. Remembrance Day marks when  World War One ended in 1918 and is an important event, not to glorify war, but to highlight the value of freedom and peace,  and to acknowledge the sacrifices made by all those have taken steps to defend it for others.

A selection of contributions from the week have been framed and hung in the entrance to the museum.

The World Turned Upside Down 2020 – A Covid 19 Chapbook.

During lockdown I taught myself to use an old Adana 8×5 desktop printing machine using metal letterpress type.  While looking for ‘how to letterpress print’ manuals I discovered an old chapbook, printed by J Kendrew, in his workshop now the site of the wonderful ‘Barnitts’ superwares store. This chapbook,  ‘The World Turned Upside Down or No News, and Strange News’ is a collection of nonsense rhymes adorned with woodcut prints that gives a bit of a quirky insight into life back then.  

So inspired by this title, in the heat of lockdown, I made a number of linocuts and some rhymes, and this is the result.  Click here to open a pdf.

Open page of the chapbook.

From doing this I then worked with Explore York to create a community led ‘participatory’ version #Haiflu Edition. See here.

If you would like a copy, ‘The World Turned Upside Down 2020 – A Covid 19 Chapbook’ get in touch.  I’ll ask you to donate something to a good cause, and then I’ll post you one. 

The World Turned Upside Down 2020 #haiflu edition

This is a modern take on an old chapbook, first printed in York 200 years ago, documents some of the experiences of lockdown from people in York.  Working with Explore York, poets Penny Boxall and Janet Dean and inspired by Liv’s Torc’s Project Haiflu, we got people to share haiku poems and doodles about life during lockdown in York.  Which I then hand printed a limited edition with letterpress type on a reclaimed Adana 8×5 desktop printing machine.  

Read a digital copy of the chapbook here.

Cover page of the chapbook

Further information about the project can be seen on the Explore York website here.

Disability Equality North West – A Covid 2020 Journey.

Here’s a creative Covid19 Journey by Disability Equality North West. 

Disability Equality North West is a deaf and disabled peoples organisation in Preston.  Despite the difficulties this year they’ve kept going.  I really enjoyed working with them all to make this audio visual poem piece to capture their powerful community spirit.

The World Turned Upside Down #haiflu 2020 edition.

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. 

World Turned Upside Down 2020 #haiflu edition


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.

Download a pdf of the postcards here.


Game Bounder Desired Quack

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.