Guest Curator Playlist
Glasgow-born Luke Fowler was one of four artists shortlisted for the 2012 Turner Prize. He was commissioned by the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield to create The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott, a film which explores the work of eminent socialist historian E.P. Thompson and includes footage held at YFA.
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HALIFAX SECTION: This short amateur film concentrates on patterns of life in the beginning of the ‘50s in Halifax city centre. It’s of particular interest to notice the beginnings of consumer lifestyles here in Halifax, with disposable incomes drawing people into the crowded centre. The mysterious early morning light captured on black and white 16mm film has an unreal quality. NATIONAL HAIRDRESSING COMPETITION SECTION: Part of the same film, this is a little curiosity which captures the hairstyles of the early ‘60s. Walk down the High Street now and these comb-overs and tight buns are all the rage with the youth. It’s just a shame that quality tailoring doesn’t seem to have followed it! I love the vibrancy of the Kodachrome colour film stock, which really shines under those competition lights.
Like many of the sponsored documentaries from the period, this film is attempting to both educate and advertise to us; its product – in this case a rather bog-standard bleach – is not something I imagine most people aspire towards, but rather a necessity to receive unsettling stains. What struck me about this film, apart from the rudimentary advertising campaign, was the relationship between the camera and the workers. In one scene a young worker with slicked back hair seems to throw the camera a look of utter contempt.
Another sponsored documentary that isn’t especially remarkable in its treatment of both the subject and the individuals featured. Its interest for me was its depictions of the former textile industry in Bingley, a town almost devoid of manual industry and haunted by the spectacle of the empty Bradford and Bingley headquarters. The film features scenes of historic re-enactment of the ‘Knocker-Up’, whose job was to be a primitive alarm clock. It also shows scenes of workers clocking in and out of work – Time being defined in a new, altogether punishing fashion.
This is a curious film of the young Lady Thatcher, in what was probably one of her rare visits to Yorkshire. We see her being shown round the Technical College, with staff seemingly enamoured by the attention. The interest in technical colleges and vocational education was instrumental in the Tories’ eventual cuts to universities and introduction of targets and semi-marketised conditions.
Thatcher’s visit was accompanied by a student demonstration which was also caught on film. This acts as a colourful illustration of the long-standing disdain held for Tory politics in most parts of the North and Scotland.