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June 21 2012

Hepworth Wakefield scores with Luke Fowler

Northern archives from the Workers' Educational Association strike a chord in the Turner Prize shortlister's guest show. Alan Sykes is impressed

Although no doubt disappointed that they lost out to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter in this year's £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museums, staff at , the Hepworth in Wakefield will console itself with the fact that they have already attracted well over 500,000 visitors in only just over 12 months since the gallery first opened. Many more will certainly stream through its beautiful doors for its two compelling, and highly different, summer exhibitions.

If Luke Fowler wins this year's Turner Prize he will be the fourth artist in a row from Glasgow to win. His exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield will give the public a chance to evaluate his work before he joins the others on this year's Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain in October.


He has previously won the inaugural Jarman Award for artist film-makers, a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2010, and, aged only 25 in 2004, a £25,000 Donald Dewar Arts award, named in honour of the first Scottish First Minister. The new work he is showing at the Hepworth, The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcote is the result of his winning the Contemporary Art Society's "Commission to Collect" award, which the Hepworth won jointly with the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. It will be the first moving image work to be acquired by the Wakefield permanent art collection, which is held by the Hepworth.

The title is a quotation from E.P.Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class, in which the historian and long-time extramural lecturer at Leeds University tried "to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the "obsolete" hand-loom weaver, the "utopian" artisan and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity". Joanna Southcott was a messianic prophet who attracted a huge following in the early nineteenth century, and who still has believers who think she will return to earth in glory (and, more specifically, in Bedford).


In the past Fowler has used archive film footage to make works about, amongst others, the LSD-admiring psychiatrist RD Laing and the avant garde composer and founder of the Scratch Orchestra Cornelius Cardew, whose members included Brian Eno and Michael Nyman.

In The Poor Stockinger Fowler uses the writings (possibly more quoted from that read) of EP Thompson and his friends Raymond Williams, who wrote Culture and Society, and Richard Hoggart, author of The Uses of Literacy. All three were active in the Workers' Education Association in particular and adult education causes in general as important post war engines for the democratisation of culture. Alongside these the artist juxtaposes research material taken from northern archives and new film footage taken in the West Riding.


Simon Wallis, director of the Hepworth, was quoted in Aesthetica magazine saying of Luke Fowler:

Moving image work is always going to be an important part of any contemporary programme. Our interest in Fowler's work arose from his engagement with experimental film-making and documentary. Wakefield has a historical connection to avant garde film through the work of Lindsay Anderson, who directed several films locally, including Wakefield Express (1952) and This Sporting Life 1963). Anderson's engagement with our immediate geographic environment and the blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction presented a synergy with Fowler, who has always expressed his indebtedness to Anderson's Free Cinema movement.



Luke Fowler's new work can be seen at the Hepworth, Wakefield, from 23 June until 14 October. It is on alongside Artists' Rooms: Richard Long


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May 05 2010

Lecturers walk out over funding cuts

Thousands of students in colleges and universities are expected to be affected by 'widespread disruption' today as planned protests take place over cuts and possible job losses

Press Association

Colleges and universities will be hit with the biggest outbreak of industrial action in more than two years today as lecturers walk out in a row over funding cuts.

Thousands of students are expected to be affected by "widespread disruption" due to planned protests over "massive" cuts that would lead to job losses, the University and College Union (UCU) said.

Union members at 11 further education colleges and two universities in London, plus Sussex University, are taking part in the action, which will include a march and rally in Westminster this afternoon.

They are protesting against funding cuts for higher education which the UCU says are nearing £1bn , on top of the £340m savings further education must make in the next academic year.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "All the tough talk about cuts has moved on and it is no longer just figures on paper.

"People are losing their jobs and access to education is disappearing. We believe in the power of education to make a real difference to people's lives and do not think we should be slashing funding at a time when more people than ever need access to education.

"UCU members are still on the side of education and we will be fighting to save jobs and defend education."

The London universities taking part are Westminster University and King's College London, which is seeing its second action this year.

The FE colleges are Barnet College; City and Islington College; College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London; College of North West London; Greenwich Community College; Hackney Community College; Lambeth College; Lewisham College; Richmond upon Thames College; Tower Hamlets College and Westminster Kingsway College.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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