A space for videos, documents and texts relating to our current programme.
4 August 2017: Leeds Other Paper, 1978
Written by Daoud Al-Janabi, Interwoven Histories Research Volunteer
Between 1974 and the early 90s a group of libertarian and anarchist socialists ran the Leeds Other Paper (or LOP for short), a newspaper that was unafraid to be everything other newspapers wouldn’t be. This was most evident in their hostile relationship with Leeds’ main newspaper, The Evening Post. LOP would regularly post an extract of the paper, before viciously dismantling it. This didactic approach to journalism is part of what drew me to LOP and a refreshing change from the vast majority of contemporary news outlets.
So far I’ve made my way through most of the issues released in 1978, a year in which the paper offered regular legal advice, covered the Chilean refugee crisis, and wrote a scathing Bob Dylan review. Given their status as a left-wing, antifascist, and anti-racist newspaper it’s not surprising that they covered many stories that relate to the Interwoven Histories project.
More generally, the paper covered the creation of anti-racist and anti-fascist groups, anti-racist protests, as well as racist and fascist crimes, and the tepid police responses that regularly followed them.
1. Leeds Other Paper, Issue No. 86, 4th August–1st September 1978
Importantly, this coverage was not reduced to white activists, nor did it present the more institutionalised members of the activist left as unimpeachable. In an issue towards the end of 1978 LOP covered the creation of an Anti-Fascist group by the Trades Council. The paper wrote that “a speaker from the United Caribbean Association said that many blacks were suspicious of the demand that they should unite with the white working class. Many blacks had personal experience of the racist of many white workers and trade unionist” and added “at some stage we must come together”.
As well as reporting on the absence of policing where one might imagine there should be (it is worth noting that as libertarians and anarchists they were anti-police), they also reported on stories where the police were actively in the wrong. On the 15th February 1978, a 26 year-old West Indian man called George Lindo, was convicted on charges of armed robbery. As he was tried by an all-white jury, as well as much of the evidence being false suggested to the founders of the George Lindo Action Committee that this was a “police frame-up”. So far I haven’t found any indication whether the marches and pickets were successful in ascertaining George’s release.
2. Leeds Other Paper, No. 78, 14th April–18th April 1978
The paper also regularly carried stories about the region’s textile industries. In January 1978, the largely Asian workforce of the Thomas Amblers of Batley mill went on strike in response to a attempted increase of machine speeds from 8,000 to 11,000 revolutions per minute. Several workers got sacked for complaining and others for striking. What’s more the race relations board accused those protesting of being under the influence of left-wing agitators looking to cause a conflict with the National Front. This of course was mere red-baiting, but it has, and likely will remain, a useful tactic with which to neuter unions.
3. Leeds Other Paper, No. 74, 17th February–3rd March 1978
4. Leeds Other Paper, No. 75, 3rd March–17th March 1978
Though different in its relationship to immigrants, the story on the front cover of the issue blow about the director-shareholders of Burton’s laying off their workers while making a quick profit for themselves also feels a part of the narrative Interwoven Histories is interested in. Montague Burton was a Lithuanian Jew who came to Leeds to escape the Russian pogroms. He went into business selling suits in 1903 and Burton’s remains one of Britain’s largest clothes shops. The redundancies were blamed on foreign labour, despite LOP being informed that Burton’s international stores selling suits in Taiwan.
5. Leeds Other Paper, No. 89, 29th September–13th October 1978
What has been interesting in going through these newspapers is the sense of familiarity in the difficulties faced by anti-racist, antifascist, and left wing activists. The frustration that they were going up against not only what you could term ‘overt’ racists, but a system that did not see them as a threat. Similarly the disdain company directors have for their staff is achingly familiar. As I said about at the start of this post, the didactic nature of LOP is refreshing. Too often newspapers support of the oppressed is narrow and cynical, making it a huge shame that eventually it stopped being viable to print LOP.
Alternative Journalism, Alternative Voices by Tony Harcup, 2013: Routledge.
An extract about Leeds Other Paper is available on the Colors Magazine Website.
Montague Burton from wikipedia.
Photos of Leeds Other Paper are reproduced with the permission of Special Collections, Leeds University Library. These issues are filed under shelfmark SP.COLL.YORKS.H-Lee-0.1q.
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5 July 2017: Reflections on documenta 14 and Skulptur Projekte 2017
Last month, a grant from the Leeds 2023 Explore Fund allowed me the opportunity to visit two major international visual arts events in Germany. Since 1955, the German city of Kassel has hosted documenta, a major exhibition of international art that in part embodied the country’s desires to come to terms with the horrors of Nazism. Its first aim was to document the Modern Art that had been censored under Nazi Germany under the term Entartete Kunst (degenerate art). Today, documenta is looked to as one of the major art world events, making visible the concerns that are underpinning contemporary art in relation to global political events.
For the past thirty years, another major art event has taken place in Germany every decade. Skulpture Projekte 2017 is a festival of sculpture (and increasingly objects/ installations/ moving image) that takes place in a diverse range of locations across the small city of Münster. Initiated in 1977 by curator Kasper König, the project seeks to activate, and create, spaces in the public realm through new site-specific commissions by contemporary visual artists. documenta and Skulptur Projeckte are of particular interest to Pavilion, because of our own work to stage new visual art outside of a single gallery space, utilising a diverse range of sites and embedding work within our local place. I had two primary motivations for visiting documenta and Skulptue Projeckte. One was to have chance to view a whole range of new and exciting contemporary art practices, with a view to identifying artists we might be interested in involving in our future programme. Secondly, I was keen to take the opportunity for a first meeting with one particular artist – Koki Tanaka - with whom Pavilion will collaborate later in 2017 and who was showing at Skulptur Projekte.
Koki Tanaka is a Japanese artist who works video, photography and installation and who is currently preoccupied by the question ‘How to live together’? This was the title of his new work, which was inspired by a visit to a former Cold War bunker (now a Shopping Mall) in the centre of Münster. The notion of the bunker – as signifying the potential to rebuild humanity after a crisis – inspired Koki to work with eight residents of the city through a week-long workshop through which the mixed group of people engaged in a number of exercises including film-making, performance, talking and cooking. Working through questions of what it means to understand one another across difference, and to live in dignity, the workshops led to the generation of filmed material that culminated in a series of short video works. The work was installed in a former laboratory owned by the university and located next to the former bunker that had inspired the formation of his temporary community. The opportunity to talk to Koki in the presence of his work was extremely valuable. Supported by our partners Liverpool Biennial – who last year commissioned Koki to restage the 1985 YTS School Students Strike – our intention is to work with Koki and a group of young people from Leeds to assemble our own temporary community in the city, in order to explore what living together might mean for future generations in Leeds.
1. Mika Rottenberg, Cosmic Generator at Skulptur Projekte
This compelling film centres on the towns of Calexico and Mexicali, sat on either side of the US/ Mexican border and the disparity between the labourers and consumers engaged in the global supply chain. An accompanying installation of coloured plastic goods, tinsel and inflatables reminiscent of those cheaply produced in Asia and other low-wage countries added to the video and resonated with the site of the work – the Asianshop Liebensmittel – a former Asian import store on the edge of Münster.
2.Hito Steyerl, HellYeahWeFuckDie at Skulptur Projekte
Through filmed footage of robots being trained to resist physical force, and footage of the conflict in the Turkish town of Cizre on the Syrian border, Hito Steyer’s remarkable installation – in the futuristic former site of the LBS savings bank – is a mediation on the relationship between technology and war.
3.Benjamin Patterson – When Elephants Die it is the Frogs that Suffer at documenta 14
A chance discovery walking through the Karslaue Park at dusk, this sixteen channel sound installation – speakers hidden in and on the banks of the park’s canal – is a haunting and absurd ‘symphony of croaking frogs’ that implicitly addresses structures of power. Realized posthumously after Patterson’s death in 2016.
4.The Society of Friends of Halit, Unravelling the NSU complex! at documenta 14.
In 2006, Halit Yozgat, a Turkish migrant living in Kassel, was murdered in an internet café in the North-Holland district of the city, allegedly by the right-wing terrorist group NSU. Addressing this killing, and other racially-motivated murders in Germany, the mixed-media work renarrates the moment of Halit’s death in relation to the structures of institutional racism that foreclose justice for victims of hate crimes.
5.Hiwa K, When We Were Exhaling Images at documenta 14
Emphasising documenta’s focus on so-called refugee crisis is Hiwa K’s When We Were Exhaling Images, a stack of ceramic pipes, transformed into miniature rooms, and referencing the artist’s own journey from Iraq to Greece in the 1990s when he lived in pipes used for canalization. Relating to this work, the focus point of this year’s documenta 14, which is titled ‘Learning from Athens’ is its parallel programme in Athens, an attempt by the curator to foreground the relationship and tensions between the North and South of Europe.
9 June 2017: Jewish immigration work records in The West Yorkshire Evening Post Archives: “The Jewish Colony in Leeds”
Written by Ang Zheng, Interwoven Histories Research Volunteer
Image: Details from The Jewish Colony in Leeds article series in The West Yorkshire Evening Post, May 8–June 18, 1891.
According to the Leeds Jewish Community website, the earliest record of Jewish people migrating to West Yorkshire can be traced to 1735. These details were found in the burial register of Leeds Parish Church and refer to a person named Israel Benjamin, who died in 1735. There are no further details about Benjamin to be found.
Famous as a wool and cloth selling centre in West Yorkshire, Leeds attracted a number of textiles merchants from other countries. In 1841 there were 56 identifiable Jewish migrants of all age groups in Leeds, most of whom were German wool sellers. After Bradford replaced Leeds as the main hub of the textile industry in West Yorkshire, many of the German Jewish wool merchants moved from Leeds to live closer to these mills.
From 8 May to 18 June 1891, The West Yorkshire Evening Post published a series of seven weekly articles called The Jewish Colony in Leeds. The third article appears to be missing.
At the beginning of his description, the writer explains that the air around him is full of unpleasant odour. He describes how the Leeds Jewish community have no time for leisure and spend almost all their time working in roles including the textiles ‘sweater.’ The writer attempts a survey of the Jewish community in Leeds, finally finding a Mr. Cohen who states that the Jewish population is, “not under 5,000 at present”.
In the second chapter, published 8 May 1891, the writer begins his exploration of local work and explains the difficulties in gathering information. At this time in Leeds, middlemen referred to as ‘sweaters’ profited by paying their employees the minimum wage. Another role, referred to as the ‘greener’, was often taken up by new migrants from Russia, who were recruited by the ‘sweaters.’ ‘Greeners’ did not receive any remuneration but were paid a few shillings if they demonstrated an ability in pressing or art stitching.
The fourth article, The story of a ‘sweater’, published on 28 May 1891, is based around an interview with a man named Rosenblitzen.
Rosenblitzen is described in the article as a kind man, praised by his friends. Initially he sold bread, pickles and other foods, but soon found that it was difficult to earn a living this way. He decided to set up his own business, renting a workshop in Leyland and building good relations with customers. He gathered a group of brethren and selected people willing to work hard for low wages. The article describes the process of ‘sweater’ forming.
The last three articles in the series cover the status of Jewish people living in Leeds. The articles indicate that the Jewish community’s working status and experience in Leeds in the early years was similar to other migrants due to language barriers, unfamiliar surroundings and a lack of access to well-paid work. The full records can be found at the West Yorkshire Evening Post Archive in Leeds Central Library.
In 1888, the New York Times published a report about Leeds Jewish tailors and their low salaries:
Image: New York Times article, 1888.
The low wage phenomenon existed until 1891, and the fight between ‘sweater’ and ‘greener’ did not cease. The picture below shows the population of Jewish people in Leeds in 1898.
Image: West Yorkshire Evening Post
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, by 1 February 1898 there were 15,000 Jewish people living in Leeds. It was not easy for early-stage Jewish migrants in Leeds to earn a living in this new environment, nevertheless they overcame difficulties and explored new business opportunities. Two businesses in particular, Marks and Spencers and Montague Burtons were famously established by Jewish migrants in Leeds.
Jewish Communities & Records
Leeds Central Library Archives – West Yorkshire Evening Post (1891)
Joseph Buckman - Immigrants and the class struggle: the Jewish immigrants in Leeds (1983)
Katrina Honeyman – Well suited: a history of the Leeds clothing industry (2000)
New York Times
On Yorkshire magazine
12 May 2017: “Matters of Life and Death”
In April this year, enabled by Arts Council’s Artists’ International Development Fund, I spent time in Boulder in Colorado, principally to research artist David Gatten’s uniquely experiential approach to teaching artists’ moving image. Gatten joined the faculty of the legendary Film Studies Department at the University of Colorado Boulder two years ago, effectively taking up a professorship that had remained open since the late Stan Brakhage retired from teaching there in 2002, shortly before his death.
The trip was valuable and inspiring on many levels. Here I will share some brief impressions of an extraordinary screening I was privileged to attend one Saturday evening in Little Church in the Pines, a nondenominational church and community centre in Salina, a former gold mining settlement in the mountains at an altitude of 7000ft.
Salina is home to David Gatten and his family, and the church is where, twice a month, he and a neighbour run the Four Mile Film Society for Canyon residents. Although Gatten presents his work all over the world, most recently returning from an extensive retrospective in Seoul, the act of showing films a stone throw from his home is clearly a profoundly important part of his life and a natural extension of his commitment to the socialising function of cinema.
It’s important to add that the residents of Salina live with the continual threat of fire and flood. In 2010 much of the surrounding landscape was decimated by wildfire and large numbers of inhabitants lost their homes. Then in 2013 a flood caused an astonishing level of destruction, washing away houses and leaving the aforementioned church hanging unsupported over a torrent of water. As such the sense of community is very strong.
The screening I attended deviated from the Society’s regular programme, which ordinarily doesn’t present what we in the UK tend to call artists’ moving image. This special occasion was the first public presentation of Tomorrow Never Knows, a film by Boulder-based artist and film curator Adam Sekuler. Sekuler is currently completing the Studio Arts MFA, with Gatten as one of his teachers, but for a number of years was also the Program Director for Northwest Film Forum in Seattle.
The 120 minute film is, to quote its makers, "A sensitive look into the life & death of Shar Jones, a transgender person living with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, and the difficult choice he and his wife Cynthia faced. At its core it's a love story, but one with profound implications for increasing awareness about choice in living and dying.”
The film centres upon Jones’ decision to consciously initiate his own death by choosing to stop eating and drinking rather than suffer the inevitable consequences of his illness. Filmed over several months, but carefully refraining from a chronological ordering of events, the film moves between his different states of being: from deciding to control his own death and negotiating the legalities, to deciding when to initiate his request, and his eventual death. During this time Sekuler developed a deep friendship with Shar, Cynthia and a small group of supporters, and the film is infused throughout with a profound sense of their shared experience and their desire for this experience to be in turn shared by viewers of the film.
The audience comprised of the mountain community of Salina, Sekuler’s friends, teachers and fellow students, and the friends and family of Shar Jones, including his wife. The film, the setting and the range of people present was unlike any screening situation I, and I’m sure everyone else, had ever experienced. This was echoed during a q&a afterwards with Cynthia, Adam and the film’s producer Darci Meyers, which lasted a further 90 minutes and could have easily continued.
The experience of watching Sekuler’s film brought to mind a very different work I showed two weeks earlier in Hull as part of our Problem of Perspective screening. Baby Home, made in 1987 by David Woods, comprises solely of a continuous 30-minute sound recording and a chronological sequence of 72 still photographs taken during the same period of time. The sound and photographs document a home birth in Hull, the mother surrounded by family and friends. It is the deceptive simplicity of Woods’ film that makes it work – it creates a contemplative space that invites as many different reading as there are viewers. For each person, their position in relation to the subject, produces entirely different feelings.
When introducing his own films, which are at times demanding, Gatten has sometimes suggested that the viewer imagines the film hovering somewhere in the distance, and that, if the encounter is to mean anything, it will be necessary for each person to approach it and bring something of themselves to it.
Finally, thinking about these two films calls to mind a film studies course Gatten taught a few years ago at Duke University titled Matters of Life and Death. The focus was to use the experience of watching certain films (as well as reading poetry and listening to music) to explore the most intense experiences humans endure – beginning with films about birth, and ending with films about death.
12 April 2017: ”Making jeans, dresses, coats, wigs, wedding dresses, Russian coats. Watching the film back makes me dizzy”
Pavilion is working with the Women’s Group at refugee support organisation Meeting Point Leeds as part of Interwoven Histories, a project addressing the histories of migrant workers in Leeds. Together we have begun exploring questions of migration, representation and industry.
Earlier this year we visited Opera North’s Costume workshop and went on to view their production of The Snow Maiden, a Russian folk tale set in a contemporary clothing sweatshop. During a group conversation at Christ Church, Armley in February, we watched a film of the trip shot by two of the women and scribed each other’s words to create a collective blog post. What follows is edited from six women’s reflections:
“I was amazed by the mass of costumes and how they were created and the fascinating professional info like that they never use zips, but velcro for quick changes. The flesh coloured nylons - up close you could see, yet onstage it was invisible. Surprised by materials and methods of construction. Different perspectives, backstage and audience. Watching the film back makes me dizzy.
The opera - never been - to me was so moving I cried. I liked the relational drama between the families e.g., mother and daughter, daughter and father, etc. The first thing that I noticed that amazed me was the drop mesh curtain and the lighting on them. Jaw-dropping projection. It was so stunning and brought loads of creative design to the entire production. What an experience.
Universalities of costume were used to suggest particular roles like the tabard of the factory worker. Mixture of costumes - different times put together by director using costume elements together (cossack shirt, Adidas jacket, jeans and trainers).
Me being Russian, they took into consideration so many details. Amazing. You can’t imagine the impact. When the CCCP era map appeared it showed the time frames. Felt like watching at home, even the way they were sitting at sewing machines.
Questions for the director:
Was he trying to use modern dress to introduce contemporary themes: gender roles, sexuality, changing roles; to talk about times changing through costume?”
Images: Florence from Women’s Group at Meeting Point Leeds, Researching at Opera North Leeds (2017), courtesy Pavilion; The Snow Maiden at Opera North, courtesy Opera North.
2 March 2017: In memory of Gustav Metzger (10 April 1926 – 1 March 2017)
This conversation between Gustav Metzger and artist Giles Bailey was recorded in London, and presented by Pavilion in June 2014 at Harewood House, Leeds, and in April–May at the Hepworth, Wakefield. Artist Gustav Metzger (b. 1926, Nuremberg) came to England through the Kindertransport scheme in 1939. From 1941–2, he studied carpentry at the ORT Technical College on Roseville Road in Leeds and in 1943–4 worked as a joiner at the Harewood Estate. During this time he developed ‘a love affair’ with Temple Newsam House where curator Philip Hendy installed the Leeds Art Gallery collection and staged a series of exhibitions by modern artists, including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Paul Nash. Having attended art school, on the advice of Moore, Metzger published his Auto-Destructive Art Manifesto in 1959, shortly followed by his first public art demonstration at the Temple Gallery, London. In its destructiveness, his practice addresses the susceptibility of industrial society to catastrophic events. He has said, “Facing up to the Nazis and the powers of the Nazi state coloured my life as an artist.”
The event with Metzger was formative in the development of Pavilion’s current project Interwoven Histories, which is addressing questions of migration, representation and industry in Leeds.
19 February 2017: Two films by Janey Walklin
Janey Walklin is an artist, filmmaker and professional video editor based in Leeds. She studied Fine Art at the University of Leeds and made her first film there in 1978. During the ’80s she worked with film and video in a number of community settings in West Yorkshire. In 1981, whilst working as a STEP worker at the Ashwood Day Centre, Headingley, she produced the 16mm film So To Speak with a group of centre users. She also ran community video projects at the Roseville Centre, Harehills. Following this she ran the Second Screen programme at Bradford Film Theatre, which responded to the demand for an open-access/community-orientated moving image exhibition facility. Activities included courses on unemployment and the media and women’s studies.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Walklin about her films So to Speak  and From A to D , conducted by Will Rose and Gill Park, 5 July 2016, Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds.
So To Speak
Janey: After I graduated in Fine Art from the University of Leeds in 1980 I took the film I had made about Leeds Women’s Aid, Women’s Refuge , down to Cinema Action [London], because I was interested in what they were doing. They gave me some film stock that I used to make a film at Ashwood Day Centre in Headingley.
Will: What was Ashwood?
Janey: It was a day centre operated by Leeds Association for Mental Health and the users would have been referred. There was a tie-up with High Royds Hospital [Menston]. My job was part of the Manpower Services Commission that got people into work, because there was a lot of unemployment. It was a nine-month STEP job as an activities organiser. My interest in film dictated the activities I did, and I also thought it was a very good place to carry on filmmaking, from the point of view of listening to what other people say who you don’t normally hear. Otherness and marginalization were concerns that I had been introduced to by Griselda Pollock in a fine art context but I subsequently felt that was – not arrogant exactly – but that you couldn’t just parachute in, you have to be part of what’s going on and it has to be a genuine kind of interaction.
I didn’t organise many regular trips to the bowling alley, which is what was expected, but I thought it would be good to set up a group to discuss what we could make a film about. That’s how I presented it and quite a few of the members of the day centre were interested, so it basically started off as a discussion and the theme of loneliness emerged. I contributed experiences I’ve had with mental health issues in my family, which was partly why I was interested in working at Ashwood.
Will: Did you bring other film work to those discussions?
Janey: No. I never said, “I’m the filmmaker,” but they knew I was interested in film. We staged things and people had ideas, for example using the Little Sisters of the Poor building because it looked a little bit like High Royds. We worked up and down the road near the centre to stage lit- tle things. Dillip [Sen] never really spoke at the centre but was interested in being involved so I went to talk to him in his flat. Some people didn’t want to be on camera but still wanted to articulate what they thought, so sometimes you hear someone speaking with an image of somebody else. I had the film stock and I borrowed a camera and recorder, so the sound and image are always separate.
Will: I like the separation of sound and image.
Janey: It’s partly due to the technical constraints of making a film in that way, but it also gives a lot of freedom. The kids you hear at the beginning were from a Glasgow tenement – they’re not actually there ... and the dog barking and things like that. In terms of placing images with what people say it’s quite nice for it not to be in synch.
Gill: I guess you didn’t have the means to view the film as you went along, but did you discuss its development week- by-week?
Janey: Not quite as formally as that. Paul Sei, who is in the phone box trying to contact his psychiatrist, came over to Bradford to be involved in the editing for a day, but not by sitting down and saying, “can I have that with that.”
Will: Did you film individually or as a group?
Janey: It was mainly me with the wind-up camera and whoever was the other side of the camera. They didn’t get to do the filming so I did rather control the operation of the camera. But how it was staged was, “well I think I’d like this,” or, “we could use the nun’s place instead of High Royds.”
Will: Sometimes we hear poetry.
Janey: Dillip wrote poetry. He had more contact with Judith Purchas who was the other step employee. She wasn’t a social worker but she was more concerned with the nitty gritty of it. She’d visit people. So my view is not quite as nitty gritty as her’s would have been. But I don’t think it’s too idealized, it’s just taking what was said and working with the people who said it. They’re very memorable things, I hear them all the time really, especially Dillip. I’m really glad I recorded his poems, and everybody else.
Will: Did he live in the flats near little London?
Janey: Yes, Carlton Towers. I think he was a research scientist in his former career.
Gill: Were there any requests from the staff for you to portray the centre in a certain way?
Janey: No, it was just an activity, and I don’t think it was thought of as a very productive one. I was supposed to do more organized trips and art and things like that, but I was very keen on filmmaking and focused on that.
Will: You screened the film at Ashwood, was that just for the film group?
Janey: I think it was for everyone. I had the film trans- ferred to tape and probably showed it on a Betamax player. It went down very well. People were really happy with it and
there was a sense of ownership about it – that we were showing “our film.” I was very conscious that I wanted it to be “our film” ... or “their film.”
Gill: Did they use the film after you’d left?
Janey: No, the centre staff thought, “that’s a good idea, let’s make a proper film.” I had used some of the editing facilities at Leeds University’s Audio-Visual Service run by John Murray; I edited a dance film I made there called Les Femmes , and Women’s Refuge. John Murray thought it was a good subject and made another film for Leeds Association for Mental Health. He would have got funding from the University to do it. To be honest I never saw it. I think it was more promotional for Ashwood.
Will: I’ve seen it and it’s much more conventional. It’s co- lour and has synch sound. Some of the same people appear in it. Part of it documents a photography workshop at the centre. It’s more of a look at the users than a film made with them.
From A To D
Will: What brought this film about?
Janey: Although I’d made a film in between – Homefront Histories  – I felt I hadn’t done anything for quite a while, because I’d been focusing on working and paying the mortgage and stuff like that. I was editing and made a couple of films that were more in the industry, but really felt I needed to do something that I felt was good in terms of filmmaking, but also involved where I was and what I knew about, which was very local and domestic. My reality. I liked the way that you can record images and sound separately and began gathering material. I didn’t script it or have any idea who was going to watch it in the end – it was for me. In a way, because I’m documenting my children, it’s like a home movie, but it was also about where I found myself, my connection with my neighbour Mary Penford and her children, and the pressures of earning money and leaving children. That’s the drift of it.
Will: Did you have any funding?
Janey: No. I made it as a film, shot it on film, transferred it to tape, edited it on tape and dubbed it, then sent it to Steve Brookes at BFI who I had a connection with when I was working in Bradford at the Second Screen. They said, “that’s a really nice film, we’ve got some completion funding if you want it.” The funding was for making a print, and adding end credits. So it was already made but they wanted their logo on the end, and I said to Steve “do you want to be executive producer?” and he said, “yes” so I stuck that in as well.
Will: Were you in the habit of making home movies?
Janey: No, I’ve never really made home movies. The sound is Danny, my son, who couldn’t speak to begin with, then he does, so it’s over 18-months to two-years of sound. The image was probably shot over three-months or less.
Will: Where in Leeds was it made?
Janey: Richmond Mount and Buckingham Mount, off Victoria Road, and it’s the Brudenell Centre being demolished.
Gill: Can you say something about the kinds of films you were interested in, or if there were specific references you
were thinking about?
Janey: There are elements, like things being hung on washing lines, windows, trees, stuff like that, or putting photographs in the shot at the end of So To Speak, where that’s kind of me. They are details that I know about but don’t read as anything in particular. I didn’t have a particular film or filmmaker in mind. When I respond to a film it’s always on the terms of that film and my relationship with that, rather than, “I could do that” or, “I could try that way of looking at something.” I was trying to do a kind of narrative, but see how it evolved. When I showed it to a director friend he said, “I haven’t a clue what it’s about but the children are magnetic.” And Noreen Kershaw, a director and actor, said, “It’s very dark.” And there is a lot of anxiety about it.
Gill: Was Mary involved in how the film was shaped?
Janey: Mary has three children and was quite upfront about feeling guilty for leaving them. In the film she is herself, but she’s also kind of me and not me. I’m in the shot where I leave through the door then come straight back because I realised I hadn’t wound the camera up enough. But that’s quite nice and I put it with, “don’t go to work.” I was messing about with what the children’s words were doing to the pictures. I’m also being my mother in the dream, when I disappear around the corner and Danny is running to catch me up and Hazel says, “where’s he gone?” It’s like a kind of day in a sense too: “what shall we do today?” “nuthin,” and then, “I don’t want no dinner.”
Will: Where was it shown?
Janey: It was shown at Cinewomen Festival in Norwich 1995. I submitted it to the Leeds Film Festival but it wasn’t accepted.
Will: So it’s only been shown publicly once?
Janey: Yes. The reception was interesting because it was in the experimental film category and when it was screened there was some surprise why it had been chosen for that section.
Gill: What about your children and Mary – what was their response?
Janey: Mary was very happy with it and felt it captured something and that she was portrayed as she would wish to have been portrayed. My children, who are a lot older now, think it’s a good piece of work and that it really captures a moment in time, if you like. I also wanted to mention Mark Creswell who wrote the music for this film and for So To Speak. He lives just up the road from here – people will know him as a guitarist. He thought of the music box idea and his reading of the images and how he made music for them – like with the Ashwood film – was brilliant.
13 December 2016: The Unteachables
The Unteachables is a 40-minute “educational documentary” made in Bradford in 1975 by Albert Hunt and the Media in Education Unit. Pavilion recently unearthed and digitised the original ½" video tape for a screening in Bradford as part of The Problem of Perspective. Hunt’s family, including his widow Dorothy, were in attendance, along with Rodney Challis, who appears in the video.
The Media in Education Unit, which grew out of the Bradford Art College Theatre Group, used video to pursue an educational philosophy that Brecht called “cheerful and militant learning.”
Hunt discusses his enduring engagement with video, television and screen-based media in his overlooked 1981 book The Language of Television: Uses and Abuses (Methuen Publishing Ltd). The following description of The Unteachables is from an earlier, unattributable text by Hunt from the late ’70s, which was brought to our attention by Robert Galeta.
“… Open Night or The Unteachables, was conceived as an answer to the Granada series last year about secondary education, Open Day. The [Media in Education] Unit’s version tried to offer both an alternative viewpoint and an alternative style. It seemed to us, having worked with school-leavers, that Open Day was offering a very rosy picture of secondary education. The school-leavers we worked with summed up school in one word: ‘Colditz.’ We wanted to make a programme that would communicate their point of view. At the same time, Open Day’s style was that of the traditional ‘education’ programme, totally different in form from the popular TV entertainment programmes. We wanted to try and communicate the pupils’ point of view by using a popular entertainment form: and so we drew on Colditz itself, Billy Liar, Kojak. (A subsidiary aim was to demonstrate that a group of people, working together with minimal resources and without an army of technicians could make a programme that was funny and viewable.)
The programme was aimed at specific groups of people: at parents, teachers, school governors, members of education committees, students in colleges or education. We hawked the finished product round a lot of different groups, and the video never failed to spark off the kind of discussion – between, for example, parents and teachers – which would not have come out of a straight lecture. In the end, though, we felt that as a programme The Unteachables was only partially successful: and we tried to use the lessons we’d learnt while making it, and while working on the spies programme, in another video programme, this time aimed at crossing the barrier between the ‘arts’ and the ‘sciences’ [Johannes Kepler Meets Sam Spade].”
Presented courtesy of the Hunt family.