These Artists Work
‘This Class Works‘ is an exhibition organised by renown Sheffield Artist, Pete McKee. Cafeteria were invited by McKee to contribute to his collaborative project, ‘The Department of Wealth and Privilege’. Clearly, we accepted.
The brief — to design a slogan poster based on the “elite’s apparent distain for the working class”. This idea grew from a long-standing rumour that, during the fevered strikes and protests of the late eighties, Thatcher met with leading marketeers to conjure ad campaigns that attempted to silence the voices of the working class. The propaganda would’ve been output across tabloids and thrown up on billboards throughout the country’s most impoverished areas. Out of the eight contentious subjects for us to choose from, our heartfelt allegiance, as a creative studio, rested with Education.
In recent years, arts ed. has suffered from drastic funding cuts, leading to an increasing number of schools axing creative subjects from academic curriculums. This ultimately leaves a growing number of children with fewer opportunities to develop lateral thinking and throw off the shackles of parrot fashion learning (unless you have the “privilege” of a private education, of course). This stringent scheme undeniably lacks logic as in 2017 the creative industries recorded their best contribution to the UK economy – a staggering £92 billion. So it’s not economical, it’s ideological — deliberate action to quash imagination and weaken the challenge against those in power.
After time in-studio sweating out initial ideas, debating image versus type, and mocking up visuals we finally felt that we’d cracked our key message and how we were going to communicate it. The result — a three colour screen print of a ‘red top’ newspaper with an eye-grabbing headline, encased in a traditional newsagent wireframe stand.
The Sun newspaper is, arguably, the main PR vehicle that allows Tories to bash their ideologies into the electorate, with everyday stories being warped out of perspective to drive support of their policies. We dissected this messaging to imagine how the Tories would justify such inexplicable slashes to arts education — waxing satirical and giving our two pennies worth on the matter.
The Tories are currently showing no interest in reviewing the value they’ve assigned to priceless public services, despite frequently repeated calls to stop systematically removing arts subjects from schools. As always, the greatest challenge to this is people. This is why we were delighted that McKee had invited Printed By Us, a Sheffield-based screen printer and registered charity, working with individuals who may have experienced homelessness or other complex issues, in collaboration with the fantastic folks at Sheffield Print Club to print our limited edition. For us this evidenced what makes this often overlooked city at the feet of seven hills so special; art, education and community.
The exhibition at 92 Burton Road, Sheffield is on until July 29 (sadly all tickets have now sold out)
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