|10/01/19 - 20/01/19
our first show of 2019, we have Shouldn’t Throw Stones – The view of a
night watchman, which is a project by artist Kevin Casey. Part
documentary photography, part archival re-presentation and recording,
and part making ends meet, Casey has been documenting the former
Pilkington Glass Headquarters for the past two years during his job as
their nighttime security. Casey’s images and the collection of
artefacts from Pilkington’s presents the social and cultural history of
the St Helens glass industry.
|How did this project come about?
was a Gallery supervisor at FACT. Several years ago they decided to
make the majority of Front of House positions redundant and replaced
paid staff with volunteers. I then completed my PGCE teaching
qualification and was offered several paid teaching roles that fell
through. I have always created work with my photography and video (both
professional and personal projects) but not enough on a consistent
basis that a regular (albeit low paid) wage could contribute to paying
a mortgage and raising 2 young children.
After approximately a
year on the dole I was offered a job as a Night Watchman at a site in
St Helens (Merseyside). I knew someone who worked for a property
company who had acquired what was the Pilkington's Glass HQ. I had no
idea of its history, had only visited St Helens a few times and had
never worked as a Night Watchman before. I was given a quick tour of
the 32 acre complex, its several interconnected buildings, halls,
tunnels, workshops etc... was given the keys and told "All yours, see
you in the morning". Whilst on patrol of the site I began to photograph
the locations , mainly to help guide me through it as it is very easy
to get lost. My camera acted as a navigational tool rather than an
artistic one. As time went on I would discover more locations, items,
photographs and would research the history of the company and it's
workers. Gradually the project started to develop. I shared some of my
images and findings online with local history groups and other forms of
social media. I was lucky enough 'The Double Negative' (online Arts
magazine) featured my work in progress, from there I had contact from a
wide variety of creatives who wanted to collaborate. The project grew
bigger with more recognition which gave me the confidence to apply for
funding. I received Arts Council Funding to then deliver the project.
Do you think artists have a responsibility to work with archives in this way?
necessarily, I think artists have a responsibility to themselves to
create work how they see fit. What they choose to do with any other
affiliated representation of others in found images and documents then
becomes a personal or moral viewpoint of being responsible. There could
have been many different versions or interpretations of this project.
There is a vast number of subjects related to Pilkington's wether it be
archival or commenting on change in UK manufacturing, workers rights,
architecture, current documentation of the site and my own
experience/viewpoints. I would never claim to be any kind of authority
into any of these subjects apart from my own experiences and
discovering the remains affiliated to the site. I was not invited to
work with a formal, categorised archive by an institution and create a
body of work. I discovered the objects, images and paraphernalia whilst
on my patrols of the site. Discovering and saving the materials from
being disposed of was part of my nightly routine, the routine became
the main focus of the work so working with an archive became linked to
the working method.
What’s next for this project?
the moment I am reflecting on the work that has been produced so far. I
am still working as a Night Watchman at the site. It has been a very
difficult process working nights, producing work related to the project
and also freelancing. I have not had a lot of sleep the last 2 years so
it is nice to finally get a little rest on days off. There are several
other avenues I think the project could travel to develop or create a
new piece of work within the same frame work. I have approached many
curators and Arts institutes in St Helens, Liverpool and Manchester
about the possibility of working together but for whatever reason they
do not want to collaborate. The ideal scenario would be to tour the
project and hope to develop it each time it is exhibited but for now
the artwork and my working life is in a state of limbo.