Caitlin Magda Shepherd

"Art belongs not to the active life but to the contemplative life—not to the vita activa but to the vita contemplativa." Nicholas Wolterstorff

Month: January, 2014

Jeremy Deller (born 1966) is an English conceptualvideo and installation artist. He won the Turner Prize in 2004. Deller is known for his Battle of Orgreave (2001),[1] a re-enactment of the actual Battle of Orgreave which occurred during the UK miners’ strike in 1984. From 2007–2011, Deller served as a Trustee of the Tate Gallery.

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Recently I went to see his Hayward touring exhibition, All that is solid melts into air. Throughout his curated exhibition, Deller takes a personal look at the impact of the Industrial Revolution on British popular culture, and its persisting influence on our lives today. A fascinating collection of working class culture, tokens, expressions, maps, ideas, records, films, juke boxes and dreams constitute not only a spotlighting but a celebration of working class culture in the UK.

Throughout the exhibition Dellar personifies working class culture, both dreary and oppressive, and proud and pragmatic. I was particularly taken by his documentary on Adrian Street, a flamboyant international wrestler from Wales, symbolically refusing the limitations enforced upon him by his father.

url-3Deller is an artist who repeatedly focuses on high and low culture in the UK, and shines the torch into the twisted, frayed and stalwart world of the working class. I read in a book of his about the Manchester Procession that he produced, by and interviewee that austerity and adversity often gives birth to popular expressions of contemporary life through popular music and comedy.

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Occupying the world of High art, as a darling of the art world, Turner Prize Winner and ex trustee of the Tate, I find it fascinating that Dellar works repeatedly with the subject matter of low culture, working culture and it’s importance to social identity today. Working identity is a valued and valuable culture, being eroded as working class skills and pride falls into the generic middle spread of the ever expanding service sector.

Dellar’s realism, and pragmaticism also catch my eye. He recognises collaboration as shambolic and messy, but doesn’t try to remove that aspect from his work, he repeatedly works on collective social ceremonies and events; such as Manchester’s procession and the battle of Orgreave.

Working class culture; spaces, rituals, language, expression, gesture and attitude fascinate me and is a space more familiar and comfortable to me than the elitist high ceilings of educational institutions and over polished meeting rooms. People as people, people with their most immediate familial, financial and social realities. After all these years of refining my mind, I still find most comfort looking at the world with my social realism goggles on; apart from one eyeglass is smeared with ever inviting never never land glitter.

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Walking into the distance

New year, a New you, a New me. Well perhaps not, but a short window is allowed by the UK at large to stop and ask. What do I want to do now? 2013 what the hell was that? Where did it go?

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It started intensely, with a major input into the IFWAP research project, while working part time at Oxfam. The project culminated with a launch of the project at Parliament, where I managed to secure myself some time on a parliamentary soap box. Oh la de da da da da! I then went full time with Oxfam, which secured a consistent work routine and stable income. Projects and professional work have been good, but I’ve been ithcing for independence and more creative and politically radical exercise.So come 2014 I shall be leaving Oxfam in the form of redundancy and going onto develop a variety of This is Rubbish projects and produce my own community art project exploring the role of story telling applied to interactive garments, seeking to explore social relationships with sanctuary in the Natural World.I am particularly interested in uniting story telling with social research, collating other peoples stories of sanctuary and place. The aim is to shine a light on the values held by different groups, in relation to the natural world and wilderness. Food as a lens for economic and ecological justice continues to fascinate and I will be looking through the hatch of This is Rubbish to foster and develop the conversation between political activism and sustainable food systems. Changing the way food is produced, traded and distributed is part of a community and collective conversation and a stand against dominant economic forces. Bring on the challenge 2014!With all these multifarious links and interests, a list of hopeful resolutions seems to be a reassuring thought receptacle.

1. Be more free

2. Follow vivid dreams for no more reason than they bring resonant joy if not money

3. Stay political. The current state of economics and workers rights is dissapointing. Collaborate with groups calling for 3 day week and living wage.

4. Connect with nature. I don’t want a 7 day staring contest with a screen. I want dirt under my nails and the wind in my eyes.

5. Get a horse.

6. Make Art; it is a platform for political discussion and a space for investigative thought. Keep making it, keep asking questions, look for artists who inspire me

7. Dance and sing.

8. Stay close to loved ones. Uphold bonds with people who share a combined history, interest respect and love for one another.

9. Learn more; read slowly, take notes, reflect, cement and collect the wide wonders of the world.

10. Love. It is the best thing we can do. People, place, ideas, objects, memories, moments, nature, the world!