the derwent valley was once the thriving industrial heart of Derbyshire. It has always fascinated me how this world heritage site as managed to maintain huge smoke belching unbeautiful factories to this day, along the banks of its idyllic river- from European largest battery recycling centre to banal forging and extrusion plants- whatever that may mean. Sadly one even less glamorous facility- an asphalt factory- has bagged up its last sticky bundle and been consigned to the inconspicuous modern industrial past. I took ig to go and see what was left a couple of months after closure
The Tarpey Gallery have put on my latest exhibition of specially commissioned paintings, entitled ‘Specialists in Failure’. I wrote the concept and developed the ideas behind the exhibition, based on Paul Verhaegue’s book ‘What About Me?’.
The exhibition runs 28.02.15 – 04.04.15 – more details available here
Specialists in Failure
Since the emergence of Western christian philosophy, our ethics, norms and values have, on the whole, been dominated by the idea that man is inherently flawed and must seek some kind of salvation. Today our Western society and it’s overarching narrative is that of the free market and its essential role in allowing us as individuals to shape and develop our lives by our own efforts and exclusively within the parameters of a consumer society. We are sold the dream, and daily reassured just how far from that ideal our humble efforts are.
The works developed in this exhibition are responses to the call of the neo-liberal meritocratic society that Paul Verhaeghe rallies against in his book ‘What About Me’.
It records in small fragments expressions of this new market driven society, and the wider geopolitical context, one which Dominique Moisi refers to as a ‘culture of fear, hope and humiliation that is reshaping the world’.
Whether it is the systemic failure of large financial institutions, or the failures of individuals in politics and economics, our lives are being shaped and our opinions bent to the tune of a new reality in which not only is our society failing, but we as individuals are broken and in need of the tonic that western consumer society can offer.
Additional text was written for the show by Andrew Lee:
…In fact we have become part of a system we despise, that fails to nourish us; but we cannot escape. We clamber up the sides of the river to slip down again into the soup, kicking and screaming and frothing up the water. Those few that make it up the side do so only by finding a foothold in the backs of those clawing at the banks. Those on the foreshore then look down with some disdain at the melee below. We dislike what we have become and we behave in ways we disapprove of. Our lives are filled with contradiction. We crave rules and yet we crave autonomy. We want ethical work, yet we buy goods manufactured under exploitative conditions.
The efficacy of success strips away any sense of community and we build a world we often don’t believe in.
Full text available here: computer says no
The photographer, playwright and good friend Andrew Lee has written a thought provoking text to accompany my new show- here’s an excerpt (the full text to be installed at the Tarpey Gallery- opens this Saturday 28.02.15…
The beige-grey platforms like paper-bags of commerce, cheap envelopes through which bills or TV license threats come, are the platform for our two dimensional selves. Hersey’s characters are chasing dreams increasingly inauthentic, disengaged, detached, pedalling harder and harder and never seeming to get anywhere. Hersey’s work leaps out at us in rich unambiguous monochrome, the stances of his subjects, themselves from found photographs, are reinvented again and again, just as are we. Is it us we see in the images, or is it them, or is it us in them, or them in us. Does it matter?
Hersey, revisits neoliberal codes and reveals the insidious tropes in our daily lives. Where does our world lead us, as we rush headlong faster and faster into debt, reinvention, faddism, fashion and further and further from ourselves convinced we’re making progress.
The seeming hopelessness invokes us to think outside the logic that we are internalising, Paul Virilio’s endo-colonisation, the importation of toxic and intrinsically mutant systems and structures into our DNA threatens to dehumanise us. The systems that support prosperity have seemed to have taken on their own irrevocable logic that is stealing us away.
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit I’m in the hi-fidelity first class traveling set And I think I need a Lear jet
Money, Pink Floyd
Specialists in Failure- new exhibition at Tarpey gallery Feb 28 – April 4
She stood outside William Hill, pram in one hand, her back turned affectionately towards it as she gently and determinedly sucked on a cigarette, exhaling willfully downwind of her offspring. A beautiful, fat round face covered in freckles, a healthy moonish face, contorted into a grimace of enjoyment for her cigarette. A young man emerged shabbily from the betting shop and shrugged the words ‘number one is free’ at her without looking up from his phone, and sloped to the other side of the pedestrian street where he slunk against the wall, still thumbing. automatically at the screen. He glanced surreptitiousluy left and right from this vantage point, his pudgy pink digit tapping pointless texts from his unlimited SMS per month stash.
With number one now free (whatever number one was) the moon faced woman screamed a hoarse vowel across the street to some unseen third party whose instructions were concise and rudimentary, with the emphasis that they should be carried out without delay. She wasn’t necessarily Romany or Irish Gypsy but her demeanor like many of those of ex mining towns might be difficult to distinguish from such by anyone not familiar with the subtleties of class and bloodline in these parts. The arbitrary toddler in the pram, whose care was now the responsibility of some one who “needed to git a fookin move on”, was oblivious to the changeover in custody, and dozed on from behind polyester knitted lemon bonnet and matching cardigan. Number one had already been pumped with several rounds of pound coins by the time I had passed the door, and looked to be relinquishing its jackpot just as much as the William Hill would have hoped.
Two men, both in woolly hats, one older than the other. “Oh well, I suppose we’ll survive ” says one with a sense of resignation. The other sighs in agreement.
(From david kynaston review in guardian)
‘Football as an invaluable psychological narrative crutch in a secularised, fragmented, post industria world full of loneliness, insecurity and unfulfilment.’
A vibrant bubbly girl, who I remember having overheard a few months ago when I was here on the self serve aisle. This time she attends me at the till, but only once she’s woken up, all the while remaining standing
Two Middle Aged men in suits suitable for 1970s middle management. Each holding a can of white lightning as they hide from the rain in a bus stop