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We The People Are The Work - Matt Stokes

We The People Are The Work - Matt Stokes
More Than A Pony Show, 2017

Stokes’ works begin with an immersive research process that explores the social structures of the place he is working in, resulting in the production of films, installations and events. These outcomes hold collaboration at the centre of both their formation and philosophy, often made directly with people they are celebrating.

For More Than A Pony Show Stokes has worked with five bands spanning generations of the punk/DIY music scene in Plymouth to create a film installation that poignantly explores punk’s legacy of protest and resistance, whilst charting the decline of live music venues in the city. In the film we see the bands stage a reoccupation of important music venues lost, or in a period of change.

The Bus Station Loonies play in city’s recently closed bus station, once the location of The White Rabbit and Tramps. A cafe during the day, Tramps was regularly transformed into a gig venue at night. The loss of The White Rabbit, which attracted major touring bands as well as supporting the local scene, has left a noticeable void in the city. All-female band, Suck My Culture, occupy the front room of a local resident’s flat in Stonehouse, on the site of The Metro Club and previously, the legendary Van Dike Club. Piss Midget are crammed into the storeroom of Billabong, previously Woods Club, which hosted the notorious ‘Anarchy Tour’, which featured The Sex Pistols, The Clash & The Damned. The Damerels perform in the much-loved Nowhere Inn, whose landlord Phil Cawse recently passed away. Phil, a long-term advocate for the alternative music scene (and latterly a member of The Bus Station Loonies), established the Nowhere Inn to be a haven for the local music community. Finally Crazy Arm busk outside the side entrance of the infamous Cooperage, closed for years and standing derelict.

Whilst the city centre scene is being pushed outwards, thankfully other venues including The Underground and The Junction are taking on the mantle to provide a space for the alternative music scene to endure.

The artist would like to thank all the bands, location owners and everyone who assisted in the making of this work. 

We The People Are The Work is a new contemporary visual art project made especially for Plymouth that explores ideas of power, protest and the public.

The city-wide exhibition revolves around questions about articulation and representation – how do we as individuals, and collectively as ‘the public’, get our voices heard within, or even against, the structures of power that govern our lives and claim to speak for us? Simultaneously, the exhibition also seeks to explore the ways in which an increasing number of artists are interested in involving the public directly in the creation or realisation of their artworks.

To investigate these questions We The People Are The Work was conceived to build connections between people from Plymouth and six internationally renowned artists through structures that involved Plymouth residents in a creative dialogue. Artists from Canada, France, Mexico and the UK have journeyed to Plymouth over the past year to meet local people and devise ideas for new artworks inspired by the city’s rich heritage and its inhabitants. From recent global events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, to the changes being experienced by people in Plymouth on a local level, the exhibition explores the shared experiences and social differences that shape the city, our society, our aspirations and our fears for the future.

For more information see the website for We The People Are The Work.

What: We The People Are The Work - Matt Stokes 'More Than a Pony Show'

When: Friday 22 September to Saturday 18 November 2017

Where: The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, The Council House at Plymouth City Council, KARST, Peninsula Arts at the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Arts Centre.

  • Exhibition / Gallery
  • Free