Issue 11 - The Waste Issue - Free
february 5 friday
dq: bigger than barry
toddla t annie mac
+ special guests! The fat man returns to the Steel City for the first time in 2010 and he’s brought some BIG names in his swag bag. 10:30pm - late £5 adv / more on door
threads vs filthy few Threads residents take on the mighty Firas from famed London night Filthy Few. 10.30pm – 3.30am £3 before 12 / £5 after
dq: club pony
It’s back to the underground at the first Club Pony of the month. 10:30pm - 3:30am £5 adv / more on door
dq: suckerpunch 1st birthday
a-skillz trevor loveys Suckerpunch’s First Birthday is gonna be one hell of a party. 10:30pm - late £6 on door
mod for it Mod for it is the retro club night that takes in the best of classic music genres from past decades. 10.30pm – 3.30am £5 on door
threads vs button down disco Legendary club night from KOKO London up sticks for one night only, journeying up north to take on the best Saturday night in Sheffield. 10.30pm – 3.30am £3 before 12 / £5 after
dq: club pony vs krooked
harry benson bittouchy kahoot One of the biggest names in Electro will be stopping off in Sheffield to play this massive TWO FLOOR rave. 10pm - late £5 adv / more on door
white lies dj set
One of the hottest bands around at the moment put down their instruments and pick up their records. 10:30pm - 3:30am £5 all night
dq fitzwilliam street sheffield s1 4ha
dqsheffield.com limited advance tickets available at the bakery and bungalows and bears photos: tom jackson
The Life Worth Living What’s going down in Steel Town, and other important things
Article Issue 11 February 2010 The Waste Issue Waste is what is declared useless. It’s the conclusion of production, the consequence that allows us to consume new things. As a thing it is suppressed, kept away from our lives. Despite this, it exists all around us. We became interested in waste when we discovered that it was a culture in itself. Waste exists beyond the abstract of weights and measures; it has varying guises and forms in the imagination. There’s a whole ephemera of waste, aesthetics of occupying buildings, products designed for waste disposal, details of physical infrastructure that come and take it away. Getting rid of something is harder than it seems.
Morris Dancing, and other Postmodern past times From ‘nu’ to ‘new’
Daniel Evans The Crucible Theatre’s new Creative Director
Useless Uses for Useless Spaces A day out in the industrial wasteland with Phlegm and Pud
Anna Minton The UK’s premier writer on Regeneration
Demolition Squad, Assemble! Knocking buildings down ain’t so easy, especially when they are designed to withstand nuclear blasts Ivan Rabodzeenko 26
Berlin Waste Bling How public waste disposal provided one of the greatest moments in German advertising Ian Warner
The Sian Alice Group Interview Esben and the Witch and Visa Versa Rob Webb 36
Robert George Saull and the Purgatory Players Tom Bobbin 39
The Man About Town Lt GCT Helier
Article Magazine Bank Street Arts 32-40 Bank Street Sheffield S1 2DS www.articlemagazine.co.uk email@example.com Article is a guide to the space that you are in. Connecting urbanism, pop culture, fashion, music and criticism Article is driven by the desire to demonstrate that the normal and everyday is in fact fascinating and absorbing. Edited and Published by Alasdair Hiscock and Ben Dunmore Printed by Juma 1000 copies All rights reserved. Photo Credits: Page 8: Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, 1986, Copyright Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission. Fire Station: Katja Porohina Berlin Recycling: Ian Warner Robert George Saull: Dan Sumption
Contributors We are good to our own. These people really helped out with this issue. I guess they are called Contributors. Theo Simpson takes photos with big cameras. His next exhibition start on the Moor soon. He took the photos for our feature, and got his gear covered in pigeon shit. www.theosimpson.co.uk
Rob Webb organizes some big nights, writes for some big magazines and is in the Purgatory Players. He also writes for us sometimes. www.robwebb.co.uk
Ivan Rabodzeenko studies architecture Emma Pud is a freelance illustrator and pretends to draw, paint and write based in Sheffield. She paints on walls, things. thativansart.blogspot.com is in a band and can sew too. She really helped with the feature. Big Up! Ian Warner is the founder of SLAB Magazine, the Heuristic Journal for Dan Phlegm is a really lovely man Gonzo Blurbanism. He lives and works with dreadlocks who works in a in Berlin. skatepark, and also paints some of the www.slab-mag.com biggest and most distinctive murals around Sheffield. He took us out to see Robin Beck does the posters for club some of the more hidden ones for the Pony. He also sells tickets, books djs feature. and finds riders. He drew the portraits www.phlegmcomics.com in the interview section. 5
5. %32 %20 %13 %10 %10 %8 %7
Working out cheapest alcohol to pound ratio Watching Day Time TV Uploading Photos from Space/Embrace/Corporation Going to Space/Embrace/Corporation Organizing night out to Space/Embrace/Corporation Searching for tags of self in other people’s facebook photos Talking in Library
%33.333 Applying for funding %33.333 Waiting for funding %33.333 Filling out forms evaluating successful alloaction of funding
Time Wasting Pie Charts for Time Wasting Wasters 1. DJs 2. Hipsters 3. Creatives 4. Art World Peeps 5. Students
Choosing trainers Oneupmanship Tune spotting, not dancing Still dicking about with myspace layouts Talking smack about local to DJs to other local DJs Watching Sound Cloud upload Mixing latest mix for _____ blog Stealing tracks from blogs without reading them Mixing Skream version of La Roux into Hot Chip,Again!
%26 Stairing at Inbox %18 Explain to Clients why they hired a Creative in the First Place %15 Convincing the Client they are wrong %12 Explaining to the Client that this IS what they asked for %10 Twitter %8 Refreshing Dezeen %7 Wadding through press-release spam %4 Waiting for minute hand to tick on railway watch
%26 Looking For Fixed Gear Parts on Ebay %22 Staying at home alone, because the music in all the clubs/bars/tesco isn’t “‘”relevant” %14 Uploading Lomo Photos onto Flicker %10 Re-loading Own Blog after finding spelling mistakes %10 Concentrating over American Apparel adverts %6 Downloading Lomo Ap for iPhone %5 Uploading Blog about _________ %5 Untagging Compromising Facebook Photos %2 Trying To Convince Housemates to watch Jodorowsky box set.
%22 %20 %16 %9 %8 %8 %7 %6 %4
VIEWS 100 mn
Charlie Bit Me
Duo Jump - Jumpforce
1,500 150 5 100 200 <0.1% total
NUMBER OF VIDEOS
20 HOURS OF VIDEO ARE UPLOADED TO YOUTUBE
1200 SIMULTANEOUS VIDEOS, NON STOP OR 28,800 SIMULTANEOUS VIDEOS FOR 1 HOUR A DAY TO WATCH ALL THE NEW CONTENT ON YOUTUBE
THE LIFE WORTH LIVING - Feb What’s happening? Wha gwhan? What’s the plan? What’s the lowdown in soyo-town?
Robert Mapplethorpe @ Graves Gallery A free exhibition of one of the twentieth century’s most influential photographers takes place in the Graves Gallery, Sheffield. Mapplethorpe’s distinctive photographs feature provocative images of male bodies, natural objects and portraiture of the people around him in New York. The exhibition of 35 works includes striking black and white portraits of Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. This is a rare chance to see these works touring. Free entry. Until 27 March. Graves Gallery, City Centre.
Lord Bunn @ The Old Sweet Shop Lord Bunn’s first solo exhibition, “Girls” is a visual extravaganza of grumpy and disgruntled looking men on mini canvasses and screen prints. Bunn’s entertaining illustrations, over 30 works in all, will remain at the Old Sweet Shop until the end of March. The mini affordable canvasses are all unique and signed: a good buy if you want evidence of your trip to prove that you’re hip, or if you’re just a fan.
Dig For History Are you into sound art, conservation, urban regeneration and the improvement of community public spaces? If the answer to all of these is yes, then not only do we think you are fucking cool, you are also perfect to volunteer for Dig for History. Part of the Echoes of Blackburn Meadows Project, Dig For History is looking for volunteers to help clear pathways and laying foundations in preparation for the next phase of the sound installation project. Oh, and you must be between 16-25, but all equipment is provided. For more info, check www.sheffieldelectricity.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
article 11 the life worth living / / / / / / / / / /
Exploding Poetry @ Bank Street Arts The work of resident writer Noel Williams, in collaboration with visual and audio artists, will come together in a multi-room exhibition in February. Bank Street will be filled with audio visual works based on Williams’ poetry, developing themes from his writing such as Women in War.
Lovebytes Festival @ City Wide Love Bytes’ Code:Craft exhibition starts at the Millennium Galleries in February. The free exhibition of work, by artists using computer coding as a means of expression, celebrates creative digital craft, although if code ain’t your dig, there is also the opportunity to get interactive and paint digital artwork using your body. Code:Craft displays the parallels between natural forms and and those of the digital age with works influenced by a range of styles including Chinese Watercolours and Abstract Expressionism. A late night opening and free outdoor light and sound installation at the Winter Gardens over Valentine’s weekend provides a cheap rendezvous.
Nocturnal @ The Forum The job of a poster designer is often a thankless one. Usually their work is forgotten before the gig even starts, and have their work torn off the walls and thrown into the bin. The Nocturnal Exhibition at the Forum Bar on the 21st of Feb will redress this balance for one designer at least. Screenprinted gig posters - some of which glow in the dark designed by Brown Owl aka Darren Topliss will be on display. It’s an evening event, so expect some DJs too. 10
“ recycling forgotten items found on history’s cultural scrap heap ” I remember, at some point last year, catching a little half-arsed bit of programming on Channel 4 called ‘Postmodern Pastimes’. This twenty-or-so minute ‘wonder’ gave an insight into what appeared to be nothing but a bunch of old saddos hopelessly clinging onto an old-fashioned, near forgotten hobby. The particular episode I caught focused on croquet, but I later found out there were episodes on Morris dancing, ballroom dancing and barbershop quartet. My inner de Botton was pricked - ‘what is it, exactly, that makes these pastimes postmodern?’ Are all Morris dancers postmodernists? Or is there a difference between a postmodern Morris dancer and one that just happens to enjoy it? Maybe the former carries a wooden stick in one hand and a copy of ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ in the other. Maybe not. Either way, the annoying Alain inside my head refused to accept that just because you somehow revisit the past, recycling some dying, if not dead, element of culture, it makes what you do postmodern. Nor did I like the idea these pensioners might be cooler than me. 12
The real difference, it seems to me, lies in the manner in which we revisit our cultural past. Indeed, much of today’s culture is fueled by a cycle of disposal and subsequent ironic resurrection. Yet the return is not one of innocence. Allegedly, the postmodern somehow acknowledges that which has gone before, appropriating it with irony; a sense of knowing. But what is it, exactly, that the postmodernist knows?
What is clear is that there was a certain selfawareness present in nu-rave, seemingly fueled by that which had gone before. In a world in which stylistic innovation is, it seems, no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum.
Now, please excuse the digression into a bit o’Theory. Who said a first in English Lit wasn’t useful? The postmodernist argues that the ideology of the ‘unique self’ – that which informed the stylistic practice of classical modernism in art, literature, architecture and so on – is pretty much over and done with. The dilemma the postmodernist apprehends is one of purpose. In short, it is no longer clear what the artists, writers and musicians of the present period are supposed to be doing. There is a real sense in which the culture-makers of the present day are no longer able to invent new styles and worlds, as they’ve already been invented. What’s more, the weight of the whole modernist aesthetic tradition – now dead – weighs like some kind of nightmare in the minds of the living.
How soon we saw it fit to go ‘back to the 90’s, though. It makes you wonder how long-dead a style, movement or tradition need be before we are permitted to revisit it. As soon as it becomes institutionalized, acknowledged, labeled or defined, perhaps? Or as long as it takes for us to become self-aware? The classics of modern art, once revolutionary and shocking, are now part of the so-called canon, which, you might say, at once empties them of any of their older subversive power. Indeed, one way of dating the emergence of postmodernism is to be found precisely here: at the moment in which the position of high modernism and its dominant aesthetics become established in the academy and are henceforth felt to be academic by a whole new generation of poets, painters and musicians.
To step, perhaps horribly inappropriately, out of the realm of the literary and into the realm of popular culture, we see the plight of ‘that which has gone before.’ Nu-rave (R.I.P), as a movement, epitomised the exact type of ‘knowing resurrection’ of the ‘popular past’ I’m banging on about. Emerging artists sought the same thrills as those in the nineties, but it had already been done. Instead, all that was left to do was to revisit rave with a sense of knowing, a sense of irony. The track-suits weren’t worn like they were the first time round, nor the whistles, nor the neon paint. Instead, they were donned, by most, in a purely tongue in cheek fashion – even some of the drug taking might have been ironic. One thing is for sure, though, at the front of many a nu-raver’s mind was an overwhelming historical awareness, a knowledge of that which preceded.
As we know, nu-rave soon tried to develop into something in its own right. It tripped over its Nike Air Force-1 laces, went tits up, and we ended up with cunts all over the place. But perhaps this unruly demise was inevitable. The moment nurave attempted to become more than a ‘knowing pastiche’, an ‘ironic resurrection’ of the past – instead naively proclaiming itself not only ‘nu’ but ‘new’ – it lost the very thing which fueled it; that nostalgia for the past which has become so ingrained within our postmodern aesthetic. It seems as if we are today unable to focus our own present. As though we have become incapable of achieving aesthetic representations of our own current experience, leaving us naught choice but to recycle forgotten items found on history’s cultural scrap heap.
The Klaxons, patron saints of nu-rave, are themselves highly influenced by American postmodern writer Thomas Pynchon, a writer renowned for his mimicry of forgotten styles, his borrowing of plot structures and his re-appropriation of stylistic antecedents into a fractured, collage-like, polyphonic voice. Both seem almost dissatisfied with the cultural epoch in which they find themselves – an epoch which feels not their own, but a mere nod to that which has already been.
So where does that leave our croquet players, Morris dancers and barber shop quartets? Well if yours is a hobby that consciously rejects the ‘new’ pastimes of the present and instead looks back on times gone by with nostalgia – a knowing sense of ones own place in history – then perhaps what you do is postmodern. If, however, you were brought up in Yorkshire’s countryside by a friendly, ale-loving bearded bloke and just love banging sticks together and prancing about with bells tied to your knees, then what you do, I dare say, is not. A 13
useless uses for useless spaces “You really picked the wrong day to do this!” Pud, one of my guides, glances at me. “In the summer there is loads more going on, with people going out and finding new spots. It often snowballs from there. But right now, when it’s five degrees, no one wants to go out painting!” She may be half joking, but in the darkness of the empty Shalesmoor factory we are standing in, it feels freezing cold. The atmosphere is still and silent, punctuated only by the occasional noise of resident pigeons and the building’s own moaning and shuddering as wind pushes against its old walls. Any noise is amplified by the stillness. Smells from deceased pigeons mingle in the cold air with the scent emanating from warehouse party debris. The floor is sticky, covered with feathers, pigeon faeces and empty cider cans. “Different factories give off different vibes. This one is quite eerie, It must have rubbed on the work.” Phlegm, the other street artist I have come out with today, as we stand in front of his nine foot high, twenty foot wide mural of a cloaked figure shot through the wrist and into his side by an arrow . In the murky light of the decaying structure, I think I know what he means.
Empty factories and warehouses are often a point of sadness and regret, in an ‘oh, it isn’t like it were’ kind of way. Covering vast swathes of many a northern city, they are most easily identified by estate agents’ signs proclaiming a “Development Opportunity” as if their surroundings are a miniature version of the NYC meatpacking district in waiting. And while the nicer, and older, buildings are occasionally bought up and turned into flats, the majority of these edifices slowly crumble to pieces, left to pigeons, junkies and the occasional rave, waiting to catch fire or be demolished. But for Artists Phlegm and Pud, these unique spaces provide opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to come by: massive walls to be painted, without the inquisitive stares of onlookers or the sarcastic remarks of varyinglyunderstanding police officers. These lost and forgotten spaces allow for massive works to created, with no demands, no requirements and little to fear. 14
“ it’s like a giant page in a sketchbook, where you can work out the ideas that are in your head ”
After a conversation with Pud about these places, it seemed they might be worth a look. So, following a bit of planning, rescheduling and re-planning all are set to go. We start the day with mushrooms on toast in French cafe in Sharrow, talking about the reasons why artists Phlegm and Pud are attracted to graffiti and vandalism, discontent with drawing at home or painting on canvas. Phlegm: “When you paint on a wall, no one can keep it. Instead it’s like a giant page in a sketchbook, where you can work out the ideas that are in your head. There is something about taking on something large or different that forces you to work through the ideas.” Pud: “And then when you go home and draw it changes how you look at it.” Our first destination is some dilapidated pigeon coops on the side of a hill by a motorway. Faded green and white paint blends into the woody hillside, covered with broken televisions, bits of
circuit boards, and inexplicable single children’s shoes, giving the impression of an abandoned shanty town. Pud and Phlegm have been planing to paint these coops for some time, and the first of a series of images tailored to space are already up. Their simple black and white lines fit comfortably in the surroundings of this avian favela. It seems like this may be a variation on traditional attempts to paint landscape; here they are literally painting the landscape, rather than a canvas of it. Ben: “Is it a conscious decision on your part not to paint works visibly in the town centre?” Phlegm: “When people ask you to paint, they tend to want it to stay up forever. But I prefer to draw and paint on buildings that are going to be destroyed or or knocked down. I kind of like to think of my work as urban moss or fungus, growing or changing with the buildings.” After our session at the coops and P&P scouting 17
their next outdoor canvas, we are back in the car. The destination is a Rotherham Street, the only place I am allowed to explicitly name in this article - the evocatively named Deadman’s Hole Lane. Rotherham, it turns out, is a bit of a drive in midday traffic. But P&P insist this is part of Sheffield and UK graffiti heritage, and would be good to see for the article. The Pit at Deadman’s Lane was the site of a factory that had been dismantled leaving a massive concrete hole in the ground. Its depth and scale meant there were untold amounts of concrete wall to paint, something that no factory owners, annoying residents or nosey office workers were at all bothered about. This combination of factors made the site a unique destination for UK graffiti writers and artists. Dan: “It was quite big in the eighties, people used to come from all over the country. But then people forgot about it for a while, until it became big again, I guess with us. It is funny how these things snowball and then disappear.” I can’t believe I have never heard of this. It sounds quite exciting. At least it did, until Pud adds “but then they filled the whole thing in with concrete.” We park the car after crossing beneath the M1. A brief walk through the surreal industrial landscape, punctuated by billboards with the massive heads of David Cameron and Ross Kemp advertising Sky and Hope to the residents and factory workers, and we are there. Phlegm: “If they ever excavate this place, there will be layers and layers of paint to see.” All that is left are the odd tags on a small electrical substation. I am assured the hole was massive, but now there is a fully functioning factory, in a clean hanger shed, with the faint smell of sick lingering in the air. For us it is back into the car, and back to Sheffield’s former industrial heart. Phlegm instructs us to wait by the car. He has to find an entry point of entry, and there is little point in a laden photographer and a journalist following around the building with him. It might look suspicious. But less than five minutes later we are around the side of the building, giving each other helping hands and legs up, to get through the open window, five foot above the pavement. As the four of us go over, passing office workers look 20
on confused. Phlegm just smiles and nods to them, as if to say, ‘hello there, everything is fine, as it should be.’ Later, he explains. “It’s the best way.” Phlegm: “When I first found this factory, it was much easier to get into. You could just come in through the gate. But now, someone knows people have got in here, and it is a little bit harder.” The remnants of a massive party cover the floor. It seems as though whoever left the building got bored of boarding it up, as one side’s windows are left uncovered, causing the light to enter the space at a strange and solitary angle. Unfathomably big, whatever this factory produced, it is clear they needed a lot of space to do it in. The scale of the work inside embraces the vastness of this space. Despite being in a group with three other people, the experience inside the factory is chilling, lonely and silent. Moving through the vast rooms, it feels like entering a tomb or forgotten monastery. The epic scale of the structure, its forgotten purpose provokes the generic nostalgia of an abandoned age of British Industrial might. And there, covering an enormous wall is a massive Phlegm piece. The cloaked figure, dead or dying, its eyes still open, gazing at the ceiling. This is a private, almost religious experience. The graffiti here is nothing like the quick ‘bomb’ in a bus-stop or the tag on a phone booth, nor is it like a public Banksy or Kid Acne mural. Instead, it is an intensely private and personal expression, content to be hidden, perhaps destroyed without ever being found. The martyred figure rests content in his tomb, happily condemned to afterlife. The whole time we drove between spots, Phlegm and Pud and kept craning their necks out of the windows, mentally noting and assessing the viability of potential new walls and buildings. Their desire for big and challenging walls seems to know no bounds. Looking at a city like this offers a refreshing take. Signs on boarded up brick buildings reading “Development Opportunity” suddenly gain a different element of truth separate to their naive optimism. There are hidden works in edifices all over Sheffield, and every other city. Painted in private, out of view of passers by. Finding a way to make useless uses for a useless space. A All photos by Theo Simpson.
the fire station goes underground Sheffield central fire station is currently being demolished by the best damn demolition contractors in the world - they even have an award to prove it. Following last year’s article on the chemical facelift of the city and plans to level the old Fire Station to make room for a super-cityimprovement-scheme, we have posted some info about demolition progress on-line. In case you do not use the internet for fear of it sucking your soul through the monitor, here is a quick update on the work’s past and future. Sheffield’s a world class city, a place that demands only the best. And true to form, Cuddy Group, the best knocking-things-down experts in the world are working on the city’s former central fire station. That’s right – they have even won the prestigious “Demolition Company of the Year” at the International Demolition Awards (we’re still waiting to see if Sheffield will win City of the Year). In fact, these guys are so good, the whole building will stay in exactly the same place. The structure will be dis-assembled into its original parts, with everything that is recyclable turned into Virgin Galactic spacecraft, and the rest crushed down into small pieces by big steel machines. The machinery will break through walls with cartoon-style metal balls, snap 22
primary beams with big claws and drag whole portions of concrete floor onto the ground. For the thrilling denouement, the thick concrete ceiling of the building’s underground bomb-shelter will be blown to pieces and all the material that once made up the Fire station will compactly fill the volume of the basement underneath. This, we were told by an authoritative man in a blue suit and tie with a thick folder under his arm, will be very loud and will raise a lot of dust and asbestos into the air. Special machines will ensure that you will not be getting any of those nasty chemicals into your lungs by spraying water into the air, so all the “bad” particles stick to it instead. Afterwards the whole area will be levelled, pounded flat by even more big machines and finally covered in nice shiny asphalt with crisp straight lines drawn on it. Beautiful! The entire 24
process will take a further 10 weeks and if you have not seen some of it already, this is your chance to see men crushing a building to little pieces – literally!! Luckily for us spectators, only boring things have been happening so far – furniture being removed from rooms, windows being smashed, workmen having cups of tea and shouting across the courtyard at their mate to get a copy of Nuts and a bacon sandwich, so you’ve not missed much of the action. Grab a bottle of premium alcohol, some salty snacks and get to Wellington street to watch the action while it happens! And if you are finally thinking of buying a car, this is your time. After less than 3 months, you will have yet another excellent place to park it!
berlin waste wranglers It takes waste disposal to bring out a German sense of humour.
Waste management isn’t exactly a glamorous game anywhere in the world. Materially speaking it’s all about junk and dirt, and operatively it’s about the grim logistics of hauling and sorting stuff as efficiently as possible. It’s also one of those things which receives little gratitude. When done properly, it quickly becomes an invisible part of the background civic infrastructure, something taken for granted. Only when something goes wrong, and the rubbish bags start piling up on street corners, do people start to take an interest in the matter, and then only to point the finger of blame. Back in 1999 though, Berlin’s municipal sanitation department the BSR, had a brainwave and hired advertising agency Heymann Brandt de Gelmini to develop a
long-term image campaign. The campaign’s aims were threefold: to raise awareness for the job done by the private company, to encourage citizen action, and to increase employee motivation. The campaign was, and still is a great success. The BSR, and its daughter company Berlin Recycling, are both very visible in the city. The bright orange company livery is to be seen on trucks, uniforms and bins on the street. Poster campaigns have decorated the city for over a decade, and an early slogan “We kehr for you” has gone into the annals of Great Moments in German Advertising, of which there are precious few. The word “kehr”, pronounced almost exactly like the English “care”, is the German verb for “sweep”. Similarly jocular mottos adorn bins citywide, such as the amusing “One of 20,356 branch offices”, or another favourite: bins dressed as police offices asking you “for your papers”.
Innovation doesn’t seem to stop at the door of the BSR’s marketing department either. A while back, a particularly loud machine-noise drew me to the window of my first-floor living room, where, looking down to the street, I clapped eyes on a waste disposal truck the likes of which I’d never seen before. It was one of those moments where the familiar suddenly becomes slightly extraordinary. First of all, the truck looked as though it had just been freshly unboxed, and was on its maiden voyage down my street. It was super-buffed. The white bits were dazzlingly white, and the the chrome exhaust pipes just behind the cabin looked as though they’d been polished by a team of ESA telescope engineers. The oddest thing was that the bulk of the truck wasn’t the usual steel-box-with-death-maw format you usually see, but an elegant rotating tube with about the same proportions as a can of Red Bull, ending in a matt silver cuff. The 27
cylinder itself, along with the cab up front, was decorated in a big orange and white chequer board pattern, and brooms mounted on the external fuel tanks were sporting pink day-glow bristles. The whole ensemble was just so darn aesthetic. Obviously I needed to know more. A quick search for the company name Faun, printed on the side of the truck, turned up a supernerdy, German language vehicle-spotting site, dedicated to amassing amateur photos of every conceivable form of transport. There was even a whole page dedicated to garbage trucks, God bless them, on which I could identify my find as a Mercedes Benz ECONIC 2629. This wasn’t bad going for four-and-a-half gruelling minutes of online research, but I decided to get in touch with the BRS directly, and speak to a human being. That turned out to be Dr. Thomas Klöckner of the BSR’s executive affairs office for public relations. He was a chatty kind of guy, genuinely delighted to be confronted by an inquisitive 28
member of public. As it turned out, the truck was indeed something of a rarity and was undergoing field testing by Berlin Recycling. Dr. Klöckner went on to explain that the Faun “Trommelpresse”, or drum press, has a big screw on the inside which continuously compacts the waste paper on the inside without the need for hydraulics, which are, you know, so 20th Century. It’s as if the aesthetic economy of the chequered tube is matched by a strict economy of materials. In a standard truck, 60% of the fuel used goes into powering the press, so the drum seems to be a good way of reducing fuel consumption too. Berlin Recycling’s hardcore technocratic approach to municipal waste management, combined with the BSR’s in-your-face ad campaigns make for a pretty radical approach to the mundane realities of cleaning up a city. And they don’t shy from populist stunts either: you’ll be saddened to know that the official 2010 BSR “Bin Boys” calendar – featuring twelve black and white Walker Evans meets Playgirl bin men pin-ups – is sold out. A
The new artistic director of the Crucible theatre, Sheffield.
“If People are moved to laughter or to tears or made to think, then I think I will have done my job.”
When I meet Daniel Evans, I admit to him that I feel like a fish out of water at a press junket: I am masquerading as a journalist, that it is all a bit strange to me to go to the stage door and then be ushered into a room where Sir Anthony Sher is eating lunch. Evans to his credit puts me at ease and then asks if he can eat his sandwich whilst we conduct the interview, as this occurs in a break from An Enemy of the People rehearsals. Could you explain what the role ‘artistic director’ means? Of course, basically I’m responsible for anything artistic that happens in the building and as we are a theatre that’s quite a lot. So, I’m responsible for programming, the plays that we put on. I choose them with my associate directors and we choose the seasons of work so plays that are complimentary or contrasting. But also I get to choose what our signs look like, how our foyers look, any art work that goes up, how the brochure looks, basically everything artistic to do with what we do.
Obviously this is your first season, which is really exciting! What do you want to do with Sheffield Theatres now you’re here? Gosh that’s a huge question! Well someone asked me actually when I arrived what I would like my legacy to be, your already thinking about me leaving! It was a good question because it gave me something to think about; the question really focuses you. For me its about a proper engagement with our audience. That means , if the people in the city and the region, through great plays, well directed, acted and designed, are moved to laughter or to tears or made to think, then I think I will have done my job. Of course they are other specific ambitions, for example to take our work further afield, even abroad. They’re, maybe, for a later date. What’s important now is that we start having, especially having been dark for two years, a meaningful conversation with the people who live in our region. 31
“All around the country empty and abandoned sites characterise city centres”
So you’re opening with An Enemy of the People by Ibsen, why this play to begin with? First of all it has a great plot, it’s a great story. Ibsen tells stories like no other dramatist. Ibsen also said he wasn’t sure when he wrote the play whether to call it a comedy, and comedy is not something you would associate with Ibsen. You normally think of him being quite gloomy and rainy but this isn’t true of this play. It’s very, very funny and I hope we are teasing out all the comedy and the fun that’s in the play. But maybe the most important thing is that the play had many elements in it that are very, very current because that’s when I say, a meaningful conversation with the people in the city, I mean having a meaningful conversation with people now, to reflect the values and interests of people now in 2010. I thought because of one of the things the play talks about how public money is spent, corruption of politicians, corruptions of anyone in power, it seemed to me there were lots of themes that were particularly relevant to the times we have lived through and indeed are still living through. Even on a very, very base level one the characters says “ Is there going to be an election?”. Of course we’re not far from having a new government or maybe a hung parliament but it just felt to me that there were many elements of the play that really spoke to the city and spoke to the city now. A lot of our readers are students, young people, young professionals. Why should they be interested and why should they come to the theatre. Some of them may be quite apathetic about theatre or don’t know or understand. Why should they make it part of their cultural experience? 32
Well, erm, ( is eating) … sorry. They should come because they want to. We’re not in the business of forcing anyone to come, but I would say if they want a night out that make them laugh, makes them think and moves them and to see a brilliant classical actor like Anthony Sher perform on one of the most brilliant stages in the country, then this is the only place they will see it, it ain’t going anywhere else, you know. You’ve gotta come to Sheffield you’ve gotta come to the Crucible to see it. I bet some readers would say ‘I’d rather see a film’ but I would defy them to see this play and say the plot wasn’t as exciting as anything in a Hollywood movie. This is the plot Jaws is based on. Instead of it being a fish in the water, this is bacteria in the water that’s killing people. The writer of Jaws acknowledges that this is where the plot comes from. So if they want to see a political thriller that’s well acted and designed then they should come. Contrasting theatre to film, I much prefer theatre because it is more immediate, it grabs you because it is there in front of you, you almost feel you can touch, there’s not that distance there is in film. Yeah, I think that is right and interestingly. I think something is happening generally. People more and more want to experience the live, live art . You know people like going to gigs, so they can see the people in front of them. Sheffield is a big music city and we’re opposite the O2 Academy here and so many other places in town, where people go and see live performance. They should know, they can get the same kind of thrill here in the theatre. A
For anyone interested in the word Regeneration, Anna Minton is a name worth being familiar with. With the release of her first book Ground Control: Fear and Happiness; the London based author and journalists has come to the centre of the debate. Her work critically examines the last 25 years of British Civic plaining in a wonderfully narrated connect-the-dots of social policy, city planning, government deregulation, and general societal shifts towards privatisation and its effects. Your book Ground Control looks at the consequences of 25 years of market driven planning ina redevelopment and housing in Britain. The effects that it uncovers are wide ranging, but with a focus on the increase in security and criminalisation of public space. For readers who aren’t familiar with the book, why is this important, and how does the book address the problems as you see them? A central argument in the book is that more security does make people feel safer, it makes us more scared. The reason for the roll-out in security is the growing private ownership and private control of places, because private ownership brings with it private security, on a shopping mall model - so in the US critics call these places ‘malls without walls’. The ‘war on terror’ has
anna minton on the failures and the future of british urban planning
added another dimension to high security in cities, but is not the main catalyst - it was happening anyway. Two examples in your book are Liverpool One and the Docklands in London. Both are used as examples of a type of re-development founded on private ownership and nonlocal forces that have avoided the constraints of planning controls. You make the link between this planning and increased security. Can you describe some of the aspects of this sort of corporate redevelopment, particularly the consequences of private security? Ubiquitous private security brings with it a far more sterile, controlled environment and creates parts of the city with a very different feel, where public life is undermined. In all these places strict rules and regulations are the order of the day, from the seemingly innocuous to the frankly disturbing. Invariably cycling, rollerblading and skateboarding is not allowed, nor is taking photographs, filming or handing out political leaflets or holding political demonstrations. It’s a far more punitive culture where the smallest misdemeanours are reprimanded. On the South Bank in London, I saw a security guard stop a teenager because she was wearing low slung jeans.
There is an argument that with more security, a person’s ‘sense of mastery’ over their environment is reduced, and does not return. This paradox of security, where trust is not in other people, but the institutions and methods of control seems well developed in Britain, where the fear of crime grows despite actual crime declining. Is there a future for the architecture of secure design, and do you think that it could be deconstructed or removed entirely in these built projects?
It doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect, turning cities into ‘clone towns’ and undermining their identity and distinctiveness. I hope the financial crisis will support a change in priorities, towards more balanced, locally based economies where planning is seen as a visionary activity for the public good, rather than merely an inhibitor of growth.
Whilst your book focuses on many of the negative aspects of places like Liverpool One and Manchester city centre, comparing those places I would like to see the pernicious to Sheffield’s own city centre, it is easy to see why every day nature of Secured by Design consumers would find Liverpool to highlighted and, hopefully, be vastly preferable. Now that many removed entirely once the developments across Britain are in consequences are more widely realised. Secured by Design is not a sort of limbo between demolition and completion, what are some just the norm in private places solutions for councils and town but in all our public buildings, planners? Are there now better particularly hospitals and schools which are now coming to opportunities for local planning now that many developments have resemble fortresses. stalled? Will we see the end of the development corporation? As the book charts the decline of British planning in the late 60s, with All around the country empty and Non-Plan movement, you question abandoned sites characterise the way that the market is left to make all the decisions, and see this city centres, such as the hole as inadequate. How do you imagine in the ground in the centre of a change in planning and local Bradford. There are already some imaginative solutions in decision making as the economic situation in Britain changes in the play, such as the urban park in Leeds and the spread of future? community allotments in the City of London. In New York For the last decade the planning ‘The Highline’, Manhattan’s new system has been systematically park on the old elevated railway dismantled, to enable growth. 33
sian alice / esben and the witch two bands talk to each other.
shows what green infrastructure parks, allotments, public spaces - can achieve. I think stalled development is bringing with it incredible opportunities. Why not put an urban market on that empty site in Bradford? As to the future, I think locally based, balanced economies are the only real alternative, but how quickly we move towards this depends on what happens with the financial crisis. There is much talk of back to ‘business as usual’ - it’s important that doesn’t happen. The current state of many city centres is abandonment, as the combination of anticipated development and clearance takes place, leaving many empty buildings and reducing the number of customers. This seems to be a symptom of the planning methods you describe, and I wondered what you would suggest to improve this, even in the short term? You still seem to have faith in the idea of the city. Empty buildings can stimulate great excitement and change in cities - just look at Manchester in the early 1990s. The question is how that excitement can be maintained after prices start rising and property developers move in. We need to build in affordable parts of the city for the long term. A 34
Conversations between journalist and musician can be wearying. It’s a fairly standard, staid process... question, answer, question, answer. Pit musicianon-musician, though, particularly ones whose own endeavours stand out in the crowd for being both creative and different, and you’re hopefully onto a winner. We think so, see if you agree. The dummies for this indulgent written experiment were Brighton group Esben and the Witch, and South London rising stars, The Sian Alice Group. Esben and the Witch are quickly becoming ones to watch in 2010. There sound is defined chilling female vocals and droning organ synths, with marching drums and reverberated melodic riffs, all of which combine to make haunting pop. A dark aesthetic permeates their music, but its not goth, it noir. The Sian Alice Group also employ female vocals and dark guitar riffs. But the comparison ends there. With experimental
“Public transport is not particularly easy to navigate with an owl, a globe and a string of lights in tow though!”
Ben (Sian Alice Group): I don’t think the horrible concept of The Next Big Thing exists in the US, so fans make up their own mind - in the most part. They get into their cars and they watch live music, which is great thing. That DIY ethic still exists, simply because it has to. And that suits us. We believe in the compulsion of making music; we feel fortunate to be able to do so. If I have an ambition, it’s to carry on doing so every day. The standard of musicians is a lot higher in the US so you have to play better, but that’s no bad thing.
electronic and dance music elements, their dark indie pop sound is sinister yet danceable. Soon to be touring with Florence and the Machine, SAG certainly seem to be going somewhere. Ben (Sian Alice Group): Leon Trotsky believed in ‘permanent revolution’; if you had to draw a line in the dirt of our present musical landscape, on which side of the line do you stand? Daniel (Esben And The Witch): Wow, quite the opening gambit that! Well, if you are alluding to the concept itself then put into musical terms I think there has been a massive empowerment of the bedroom producers/ musicians/labels/blogs in the last ten years or so and it does appear to be constantly gaining speed and slowly subsuming the more established names. Examples of this would be ‘Glo-Fi’ (or whatever it’s called) artists such as Memory Tapes, Washed Out etc. who quite
possibly wouldn’t have had the same exposure ten years ago. In a very personal way, we record everything we do ourselves in bedrooms and bathrooms too so to answer your question finally, I think we are dependent on the rise and evolution of tools to empower people outside of the traditional circles of the music scene.
You’re a very ‘visual’ band, incorporating props, lighting and projections into your live set... last time we played with you in Hoxton, you turned up off the Brighton train with your owl and lights stuffed under your arms. I thought that was amazing - absolutely no compromise despite public transport! Has that visual element always been there from day one? Is that part of your background / dayto-day lives too?
Daniel (Esben And The Witch): The majority of the items we carry around to shows are actually You guys are signed to American from our front rooms and Label The Social Registry and you bedrooms so it is definitely an guys have played over there quite a important part of our everyday lot. As American audience virgins lives. It’s quite odd, in fact, ourselves is there a particular because invariably we get asked difference in the sort of crowds and about the lights and artifacts as their attitudes you come across over if it’s strange that we incorporate the pond? them. It staggers us that more bands are not aware of the Sian (Sian Alice Group): I find that visual aspect of what they are American alternative music fans doing. One thing we noticed are more free thinking and less immediately when we played swayed by trend. I think this is with your good selves was the inevitable considering the sheer fantastic beater and the whirling size of the country and therefore hair. These almost ritualistic, the Industry. It is more allowing tribal actions only enhanced the and enabling than here perhaps? experience for the viewer. Music 35
“Historically, music has had a transcendental or spiritual purpose. I’m happy to keep that tradition alive, but with fuzz pedals and broken synths.”
is supposed to be escapist and transformative; immerse people, envelop them. Public transport is not particularly easy to navigate with an owl, a globe and a string of lights in tow though! Your records have a very hypnotic, trance like feel to them. Whenever I’ve seen you guys, though, I am torn between watching what you are doing to create the noises and closing my eyes and allowing myself to be swallowed by the music. Is the music deliberately encompassing in that manner? Rupert (Sian Alice Group): Firstly, thank you! I’m glad you respond to the music in that way. And I have to say that I had similar feelings watching you in London last Summer. It’s deliberate in that we’d love the audience to be as consumed by the performance as we are. Whether they’re moved to be swallowed by the music or to dance to it, or however they want to react, is dependent on the song and the person hearing it but the aim is the same for us - to create a full musical experience. Ben (Sian Alice Group): I can’t stand cynical attempts at writing The Perfect Pop Song. If it didn’t interest us to make and perform the music we do, we wouldn’t do it. Historically, music has had a transcendental or spiritual purpose. I’m happy to keep that tradition alive, but with fuzz pedals and broken synths. What record should everyone own, and why? Daniel (Esben And The Witch): We had to come together for this one but I want to mention one 36
for me in particular too so as a band we think Closer by Joy Division. It’s just so wonderful. Vocally it’s morose, haunting, and austere. Musically it’s inventive, progressive and intense. Martin Hannett’s production is perfect, the artwork is possibly Peter Saville’s best work and then the events that surrounded it only add to is lasting appeal and intrigue - particularly lyrically. Personally I would say The Drift by Scott Walker. It’s the singular most impressive, stubborn, individual work I have heard. It sounds like it was recorded without a thought for themes trends or audiences. It staggers me every time I listen to it. Same question to you there, it’s a good one that. Sian (Sian Alice Group): Aah, The Drift is amazing. Sorry, I can’t choose one particular record though! Ben (Sian Alice Group): I kinda regret asking that question now! I can’t answer that, singularly, either... but here’s two just to be awkward. Born To Be With You by Dion, maybe Phil Spector’s best record. And Infinity by John (and Alice) Coltrane; originally recorded by John and mostly unreleased, Alice added her thing to it after her husband died. A lot of jazzers hate it, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the sound of eternal love. A ---
robert george saull and the purgatory players The Purgatory Players, led by Shropshire-born frontman Robert George Saull, were formed in Sheffield in early 2009. One year on and their bold, dark and often unsettling blend of folk and progrock has seen them establish themselves as a unique emerging talent. In the past twelve months they have played alongside the XX, recorded their debut EP ‘Gardens’, and even managed to impress Jens Lekman who deemed them “very British, in a good way.” We met Robert Saull and guitarist Robert Grant as they prepared to send off legendary Sheffield pub ‘The Shakespeare’ on its closing night to talk about the new EP, and find out whether the next year will be just as productive as their first. A lot of the music produced in Sheffield is associated with a strong identification with the city, whereas your music has no apparent rooting in any time or place. How much influence, if any, does come from the fact that you live in Sheffield? Robert George Saull: Certain things in
Sheffield have influenced me but it’s been more the people than the city itself; it’s a special type of person that comes from this city. But generally I’m more influenced Esben And The Witch and Sian Alice by things in the world; I grew up in the countryside and I prefer Group play The Harley (with support from local wunderkinds Double No No) that connection with nature. Because I’ve moved around a for DrownedinSound on Wednesday lot and lived in different places February 10th. Tickets are available I’ve been able to take influence now from the venue, SeeTickets and from those experiences, which WeGotTickets.
“My songs have a clear message, and I want people to be able to respond to it. I’d love to be able to set up some kind of dialogue with people who listen to my music, to discuss the ideas in my songs or whatever.”
is probably why my music is more diverse lyrically. Given that impact you’ve felt from the people in Sheffield, do you identify yourself specifically as part of the Sheffield music scene? RGS: I don’t really see it much as being a scene. There’re a lot of bands that I’m good friends with in Sheffield, but I don’t see it as being part of a collective musical identity. Part of what I love about the city is its idiosyncrasy-in other cities you get scenes based around common music, common ideas, whereas in Sheffield there are so many disparate crazy ideas that I don’t think there is really a particular scene. Everyone wants to do something different.
You’ve got a twitter account, and also write a blog on your myspace page. It seems that you have a strong appreciation for your fan base, which goes beyond simply trying to get as much exposure as possible. RGS: Oh yeah, of course. For a long time I’ve thought about the purpose of songwriting, and the reasons I put my time and money into this. And obviously part of it is because I just enjoy it, but it’s also about making something that people can enjoy or have a connection with. Most of my songs have a clear message, and I want people to be able to respond to it. I’d love to be able to set up some kind of dialogue with people who listen to my music, to discuss the ideas in my songs or whatever. Robert Grant: That’s what twitter’s for! 37
The new EP, ‘Gardens’, wanders out into many different directions; your list of influences cites Arcade Fire, Tom Waits, Divine Comedy for example. It seems like you feel a certain responsibility to push yourself into different areas and try to keep doing new things? RGS: I don’t feel a responsibility to do it; obviously it’s important to have music that’s interesting for people, I don’t just want to do the same as everyone else does, but it’s not something that really motivates me hugely. In terms of songwriting I tend to write a lot of the lyrics first and then try to think about how to translate that musically, so it ends up being a mix of a lot of the music I listen to from all different sources. RG: Often we’ll bring a song into
the practice room, and it’ll end up going into weird directions. It’s not a conscious thing, if you tried to do it in a deliberate way it wouldn’t really work. How was the recording process?
RGS: We were very fortunate because our friend (producer Screaming Maldini) wanted to record it for free; he makes 38
his own music which is very orchestral, and so he brought in a string quartet and we wrote in parts for that-- it meant we could do all these different things. We used a lot of instruments; I play flute on it, there are bits of harmonium, lots of guitar layering. We wanted it to be different from the live thing, which is completely stripped back—we wanted it to be special as an EP. And perhaps we can’t replicate it live, but I don’t think that’s a problem.
RGS: So there’s the EP coming out, but it’s kind of open at the moment. We want to be able to play at different places around the country, and for other people to hear what we’re doing.
RG: Even if it’s physically possible,
RG: A gig in a church would be
we choose not to anyway.
But did you ever feel that the converse might be true, that the EP might lack some aspects that only come out at live shows?
proud of it, and when people hear it I think it will come across differently to a normal band’s first EP. Finally what does 2010 hold in store for you?
RGS: Yeah so we’ve got St Paul’s Cathedral booked! But really I just want to have fun doing it. The main thing I want to do is progress musically – different RGS: At points I have thought that, ways of writing and recording, yeah, and I’ve worried that maybe different arrangements and people who get the live show variations. So I suppose won’t get the EP. But they are very I’m thinking of doing more different—they’re two sides of experimental stuff. At the moment the band. In recording we were we just enjoy playing; it’s worth very meticulous, we went over and doing any gig we can because it’s over it to make sure everything just good fun. A sounded right. We wanted to get ‘Gardens’ is released on February it as good as we possibly could, 4th and will be launched with a so it’s taken longer than perhaps special headline performance at Plug, Sheffield. it could have done. But we’re
Man About Town Usually, I respect my privileged station as public servant and endeavor to report the news genuinely, unburdened by personal grudge. However, this last month I fear, a blight hit Sheffield like locust to red wood pine, or something like that, and I have no choice but open up a personal vendetta. For in government efforts to maintain public order, I fear a step has been taken rather in the wrong direction. A Draconian implementation of identification check points have been set up the city over, as a barrier to the comfortable life. However, instead of her majesty's policemen and women becoming over zealous in their efforts, it has been rather less charming spotted and ugly bar staff. It seems, apart from a few reputable dealers of mead and liquor, most staff have taken it upon themselves to be 'utter f****** c****' as one member of the Article editorial team so eloquently put it. Refusal of sale of alcohol to many members of the Article staff is beginning to take its toll. One of the team has admitted he would really like to 'smash some s***'. He has been sedated for now, but I fear should it happen again he might 'totally f****** lose it man'. Barkeeps, you have been warned. I suggest a new policy. Anyone wearing slightly fashionable clothing, be they with or without beard, should be allowed to drink in peace. Anyone in football colors, chav wear (including TopMan), or with a Mancunian swagger, should immediately be ejected from the premises. Cautions should be issued to people talking about non-relevant indie bands, and reading generic city wide magazines that print over 30,000 copies monthly. These are the clientele of Wetherspoons, not your pub. Consequences could be disastrous should these demographics become inverted. But enough of my own troubles. One decent pub, which did implement our suggested policies for the most part, has sadly been lost. We mourn the departure of the Bard. Its weekend long send off, was an excellent show. And the eternally freezing cold performance room will be sadly missed. But apart from this regrettable loss, its seems in 2010 everything in Sheffield is coming up roses. Kicking things off, Club Pony began the year with a belter of show, honouring Theo Keating, performing under his Fake Blood moniker. The bar has been raised, and I expect it to be met. Their next largish engagement sees efforts combined with sister night Krooked, to bring Sinden to the downstairs of DQ with heavy heavy Berghain Techno upstairs. I know where I will be! Also inviting some notable acts to the city is promoter Drowned in Sound, who has currently lined up Esben and the Witch, Sian Alice Groups, Errors and Django Django in February Alone! And as though this weren't enough, has booked Memory Tapes for a March date at the Harley Hotel. Finally, confirming February to be an utterly massive month for the city's independent promoters, Xiu Xiu headlines the Harley on the 24th. I simply cannot wait to cry in the corner. Let us leave the night-life circuit. The day is a time for activity as well. As is the early evening. The cities cultural calendar is beginning to fill itself. Kicking off early with the Love Bytes digital arts festival, there also follows the city wide Art Sheffield Biennial. Both city wide events feature extensive programs spread of the course of months. For more information, respective google searches are the most helpful approaches. Also upcoming and worth keeping an eye out for is Film and Music festival Sensoria. Although the festival itself does not start until April, there are many warm up events along the way. Of particular note is a fundraising event at the Showroom Cinema on the 18th of February. The Breaking Rocks Tour will feature a film screening, live performance and Q and A from Billy Bragg. Finally, we continue in our quest for culture. Have you found any yet? If so, please do get in touch. We are effing gagging for it. yours,
Lt. Geoffrey-Crispin T. Hellier 39