The Other Project, co-ordinated by Third Year Fine Art student Mia Ferullo, is a collaboration between Leeds Central Library and York St John University’s second year students. The students were divided into four groups, each being given an issue of the Leeds Other Paper. With a combination of Fine Art, Photography and Illustration students, this project displays a range of works that explore the topics and content of the Leeds Other Paper during the 1970s and 80s. This first blog includes responses to issue 521 which was released 11th March 1988, with the main article drawing attention to protests against Clause 28.
My name is Robin Daji, and I’m a second year Illustration Student at York St John University, I have created a piece of work in response to section 28.
Section 28 was a piece of legislation introduced in 1988 that aimed to stop local authorities and schools from “teaching and promoting homosexuality.”
The work is a recreation of a newspaper page, inspired by Leeds Other Paper, which was an alternative newspaper that “supported groups and individuals who were struggling” and gave the LGBTQ community a space where their views could be heard.
The work is about fairness, equality, recognising something is wrong and enacting social change. The imagery and words represent the values of Leeds Other Paper, and the 15 years of protests and petitioning that took place, in order to have section 28 repealed.
Coming into this project was unaware of section 28, therefore I decided to incorporate the written law into the work. I feel that this will benefit people like myself who may not be aware a law like this ever existed.
As a developing printmaker, I was interested in how LOP was produced: the processes involved and, more importantly, the people behind these processes. I had a great conversation with John Boocock, a former member of Leeds Alternative Publications Ltd, the workers cooperative behind the production of the paper. John’s enthusiasm for this project was palpable and infectious, inspiring me to create work centred on his involvement. During the process of making, my work became looser, more experimental and culminated in a more personalised piece. Incorporating my own memories of the eighties, I used my prized vinyl records in the print process. With my heart in my mouth, I pushed the inky roller over the LP, hoping it would survive!
For this project, I wanted to create a photographic piece on specific article, but I wasn’t able to come up with any ideas. So, I looked to the music section of the issue. I have a close connection to music. From a young age, my parents took me to many music festivals featuring little known bands such as ‘3 Daft Monkeys’, ‘New Model Army’ and ‘The Levellers’. These types of bands influenced this work, especially when I spotted familiar names in this issue. These names included folk group ‘Men They Couldn’t Hang’, ‘New Model Army’ who formed close to Leeds, in Bradford, and punk rock band ‘U.K. Subs’. All of whom are still going today.
These familiar names helped me to create the final work. I decided to create a flatly, a layout of objects photographed from above. I wanted to utilise the concrete floor of my studio to add a roughness to the imagery and I also decided to use my old typewriter. Even though this typewriter is much later than when this issue was published, it has links to lyric writing. I wrote up a selection of songs relating to the bands featured in the issue on this typewriter to strengthen this link. I selected the songs based on albums released around the time of March 1988. I was able to then choose the title song, or other songs that have a significant meaning to me, and these were the songs I typed up.
The first band I looked at was ‘The Fall’. I was able to find out from a friend, who attended a concert the week before, that his tour was linked to the album ‘The Frenz Experiment’. I was then able to find lyrics for two songs, ‘Frenz’ and ‘Hit the North’. The song ‘Hit the North’ seems to have connections back to the governments neglect of Northern cities such as Leeds, so I could link it to the issues happening around March ’88. For ‘U.K. Subs’, I was able to find the album ‘Killing Time’ which was released in June ’88 so could be linked to this concert. I only wrote up the title song ‘Killing Time’, as I found it hard to find song lyrics from this album. Lastly, ‘Men They Couldn’t Hang’ released the album ‘Waiting for Bonaparte’ in June ’88. I was also able to find an ad from the 19th of March 1988 issue of NME, for the ‘Men They Couldn’t Hang’ single ‘Colours’, which is on the album ‘Waiting for Bonaparte’. Because of this, I typed up the songs the ‘Colours’ and ‘Waiting for Bonaparte’.
Alongside these typewritten lyrics, I was able to find the vinyl record of ‘Waiting for Bonaparte’ and the ‘New model Army’ album ‘Thunder and Consolation’ on cassette. Both are from my Dad’s music collection and both original releases from ’88. Also, with these, I printed out certain pages from the issue that had advertisements for services, concerts and even protests, to place alongside these music related paraphernalia. I also printed the Leeds Other Paper pink logo out for the same purpose.
For the shoot itself, I laid out the lyrics and a few spare sheets of paper to cover part of the concrete floor. I then positioned the typewriter, vinyl record and cassette tape. Finally, I scattered the cut-out advertisements around these objects with the logo clearly placed. I used a phone light to add in an extra light source during the long exposure, which also added reflections into the vinyl and cassette case.
The whole aim of this work was to represent the music scene of 1988 in a piece of art. By using an original vinyl and cassette, typing up year appropriate songs and using cut-outs of the paper depicting important articles and ads, my hope is that I was able to portray the music scene in this specific week period of 1988.
‘This cost me my £450 rent deposit to make.’
Originally, I was drawn towards a much more political approach for this submission after reading the article titled ‘Bigger profits, Higher rents’. Focusing on research into current issues surrounding landlordism, I pursued a much more illustrative direction with my practise. Working on different mediums such as the bricks and slate, I was demonstrating my clear political views on the subject through quick and impulsive drawings, alike the house here. However, I felt as though my political judgements almost clouded the artwork created, thus leading me to take a step back and reflect upon how my ideas could be demonstrated in a more contemporary way. I discovered that due to the scale limit we had been briefed with, photography and sculpture became fundamental elements in my process of creating. The content of my work represents issues surrounding my own personal experience with landlords and living in a rented property, particularly during a pandemic and as a Fine Artist.
The relevancy of the Post-it note is clear: I cannot place anything on my walls as a tenant, otherwise I will lose my £450 deposit. Our property has been recently inspected by the council alongside an estate agent rep, both searching for evidence of any insufficient standard of living. They did not pay attention to the mould, the broken glass window covered by a thin strip of cardboard, the unusable cooking appliances, or even my bedroom window that cannot be opened – all of which were an issue the day we moved in and issues that we ourselves are not permitted to fix. They instead chose to criticize us and gave us a warning that if we did not remove the posters, artworks and tapestries down from the monotonous beige walls, that every tenant would be losing their £450 deposits. The questions “who would not want to cover up the accumulating mounds of mould on the walls?” and “who would enjoy having to look at the same beige walls when they are forced into self-isolation?” arise here. This issue particularly affects me as an artist as I work practically and visually, now having to display my artwork on the floor.
Throughout my practice, building bricks have been a recurring form of imagery in representation of the working class, as well as issues surrounding landlordism. The photograph displays three stacked together and held up by a worker. One should reflect and engage with the fact that landlords, although not all, are able to profit from those who have worked to build the houses, those on minimum wage, those doing the ‘dirty work’. Whether considering the construction workers here or a general working-class citizen, there is still an over-arching element of the social class-divide initiated here.
It became apparent for me to include the bricks in their physicality when a discarded collection appeared in my garden. Upon exploring the materiality of each brick, I discovered that they were very fragile, with pieces flaking off when touched. The impulsive and almost ‘childlike’ drawing of a house over the bricks draws attention to the context of housing, whilst allowing me to explore the medium of paint without the properties of the bricks breaking apart a ‘what-could-be’ detailed drawing. The fragile and broken bricks implement the suggestion of decay and introduce the concept of time. This is very similarly seen in the progression of the mould to the right of the image.
This concept of time is important to this submission, as it is a clear connection to the article from 1988. As a collective group of Fine Artists, discussions arose that actually not much has changed in society since the article was published and the issues presented are just as relevant to today. ‘Bigger profits, Higher rents’ is evermore relevant still. It’s as though we are stuck in the past. Stuck in the “good old days”.
Bowl of Humanity
My project was to create a piece of art surrounding an article featured in The Leeds Other newspaper from 1988. The article covered the plight of the Bangladeshi community of bringing family members to live with them into the UK, by having to show proof that they are related. A £600 DNA test was offered which they would have to pay themselves. This piece spoke to me as the UK is still ill-treating minorities seeking the UK as a home, be it through work-based immigrations and of course the unbearable crisis we have been witnessing of the refugees, worldwide. I wanted to address the continuing decline in humanity, how this article is still an issue today, on immigration and the desperate plight of humans fleeing from horrors in the own countries.
Charities like Choose Love (@chooselove) are the ones who step up and bring humanity back into the lives of the refugees who are continuously treated with cruelty and stripped of their humanity and identities in the eyes of the media and portrayed as something like a ‘swarm’, a barbaric rhetoric. Food is given out as well as support and legal advice, they are trying to create some blueprint for humanity. One which the world is in desperate need of. The current climate in our world, the rising sea temperatures, the pollution of plastics into our environment known as forever chemicals and the treatment of every living being is calling into question; “Where is Humanity?” and “What is humanity?”
I used a bowl to represent Humanity and the act of care through cooking and giving food. It holds powerful memories when associated with childhood, family and friends, which can bring comfort to many. Spices represent the Bangladeshi community and the issues in Britain’s past and present around immigrants and other countries. However, the bowl is broken its contents spilled…the question is then “How do we collectively repair humanity?”
If you would like to read the entire Leeds Other Paper about the March Against Clause 28 then click on this link here. Keep a look out for York St John’s Fine Art students next Secret Library Heritage Blog next Wednesday.