I do just love the archive, it really satisfies the part of me that adores flea markets, jumble sales and car boots. It’s a total joy to find treasures. Actually, there’s a greater likelihood of finding something truly stunning in the archive, because I’m surrounded by boxes and boxes of interesting stuff.
You see, it is quite a while ago now that I was going through boxes and scanning things onto the computer quite repetitively, slightly like a robot. When among the jam packed heavy box of photos I opened up one packet and discovered these.
Such striking images that I couldn’t resist spending some time with them. This lad in his amazing top is doing the classic teenager, ‘I’ll go but I’m not gunna like it’, face.
So the question to ask after you get over the initial ‘wow moment’ is what’s going on here? And most importantly what does it have to do with Mid Pennine Arts?
The truth of my archive process is that I don’t, or haven’t had time to follow up these questions in a logical way. I find things and it is a delicious distraction from what I’m surposed to be doing. Most items that I’ve gone through are stored somewhere in my brain but things like these photos shine brightly. That’s why weeks or months later, when we’re going through the press records, I can make connections through the archive a bit like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.
That’s what happened really, we were going through the press books trying to match articles with programme events (a task for a small army), when I found this.
This is Walter Kershaw, heralded as a pioneer of street art and graffiti. His work is now studied at both Oxford and Cambridge University. But in 1975 he was commissioned by MPAA to paint a mural on Fulledge Community Centre in the Brunshaw area of Burnley. This project was definitely ambitious and ahead of its time. It involved reaching out and engaging the community, especially young people in art and drama workshops during the summer. To put this in a bit of a wider context the Arts Council only recognised Community Arts as being separate and worthwhile of particular funding in June 1974.
Yet again this shows the Director of MPAA taking a chance on an artist and really pioneering this new aproach to the arts. Making art and drama aproachable and accessible to all.
Check out this short film about Walter Kershaw called First Graffiti Artist. It’s really worth a look, he’s one on his own fighting a battle to brighten up the gloom of northern towns.
“When I came to look at the wall it had a lot of graffiti scrawled across – some of it very good. So I thought since it was a community centre I’d paint the community. The youngsters have been helping as models, and maybe when it’s finished they won’t go back and scribble on themselves” Walter Kershaw – 1 August 1975
Do you remember the mural? How long did it stay up? If you can help in anyway click here to get in touch.
Isn’t this costume the most amazing thing? Although, it does beg the question why? Please help solve this mystery. Were you the Liquorice Allsorts Girl? Did you know her?
The photos I found cover the whole project with loads of participation. Do you remember this? Are you in any of these photos? I’d love to hear from you please get in touch.
To finish off the summer project there was a party.
I feel that these records of projects, however big or small, with local people are so important. Hopefully in the future these gorgeous photos will be enhanced by memories. Untill then I hope you enjoy these images.