Sunday, 14 September 2008

Exhibition: Tales From a Changing City – Danny Hill & Darren Washington @ Airspace Gallery, Hanley. September 5th – 12th.

Review by Steve Dean

Pics by Julie Gould (click on pics to enlarge)

“The bulldozers came last wayk; thee didna waste any tarme…
Now owl aw ar can see from mar back yard is a sea of debris; red, black ‘n’ grey; and th’ tide stretches back as far as thayse tired owd eyes of marne can see. Pretty soon, I suppose, ar’ll bay the eonly one arahnd ‘ere that’s left…”

Having lived in Stoke for twenty years now, I myself have seen much change since I first arrived and Stoke Sounds contributors Danny Hill and photographer Darren Washingtons’ tribute to the changing face of Stoke-on-Trent brought home just how drastic these changes have been.

Darren’s photography captures well the starkness of the devastation wrought on great areas of the city as street after street is flattened in the dubious name of progress and Danny’s acute observations are richly detailed and written with an obvious love for the city of his birth.

I was going to write at some length of the work presented here, but after pondering on the matter for a spell, I though it more apt to leave it to Danny himself.

Much of it written in the old Potteries dialect, here are some of my favourite quotes gleaned from the exhibition walls…

…on relationships and football:

“Shay’s taken everythin way’ve ever had. The bloody lot. The telly, the fridge-frayzer, the microwave, the furniture, washing machayne, even the laight-fittings for God’s sake. Ah should ave sayn it comin. It inna larke shay never warned may. Shay’s been sayin it fer years. Ow thay’st bloody cares abite is thee footbeowl. Repeatin larke a bloody mantra ‘er did. Thee conna ave the best of both worlds. Tak yer pick…

…what am ar supposed ta deow nah?Ah’ve got absolutely nothin’. Shay’s even taken may most prized possession, just ite of spite; an ‘istoric piece of rubble from the owd Victoria ground – thee owd Boothen end thee kneowst? Ar spent two wayks wages biddin’ fer that!”

…on characters:

“Many wondered if Raymond went more than a minute or two with out saying anything at all! Some customers, caught up in his camaraderie, would prompt him playfully from time to time.
Leaning forward. “What about Stanley Matthews? Ever meet him?”

Snorting derisively. “Knew him?We were practically known as blood brothers, my boy.”

“Bruno Brookes? Nick Hancock?”

“There is not one local disc jockey, past or present, that has not met the end of my scissors.”
“Robbie Williams?”
“It is quite well-known around Tunstall and Burslem parts that I inspired at least 3 or 4 of the boy’s records!”

...and on society (this one really has to be written in its entirety):

“That couple next doewer raylly git on mar bloody wick, thee deow. Thee think theer so high n mighty, teowkin' ow posh, larkes - why conna thee teowk normal larke may n our Trev' deow? Professionals, that's what thee call 'emselves, or to give it the full title, young professionals, ow bloody "la-de-da," thee are, thee act as if theer farts dunna stink larke every-bugger elses deow. 'E leowkes larke thee's summat wrong with 'im! N 'er, dunna git me bloody started on 'er; weolkin' dine th' road as bold-as-bloody-brass, larke er's trayin to balance a payle o' beowks on 'er pretty blonde 'ead. Ooh, ah conna bloody stand 'em, ah conna. Ah oewnly went rind theer to say "Ay up, welcome to th' neighbour'ood," but 'er leowked at may larke ah wis bloody-well daft! Well, ah've trayed showin' um 'ospitality - eet's obvious thee onna from rahnd 'ere, ah wis doewin' mar neighbourly bit, thee kneowst, larke eet says in th' Bible - but ah wunna deow eet again! Ah wunna bother! Nah, that's eet as far as ah'm concerned, thee've burned theer bloody bridges!”

“That couple next door seem terribly nice, very welcoming, although me and Richard have only met them just the once, as we were unpacking when we first arrived. Quite frankly, it's been dreadfully arduous adjusting to our new surroundings. My darling Richard, I know, has been under considerable strain adapting to his new job over here; I can see the anxiety in his eyes. He seldom complains. Bless him. Richard is Richard, and during the preciously short few years of our marriage I've tended to notice his behavioural traits, his eccentricities, if you like, and when under pressure, his burdens do serve to force him into his shell, making him appear, to outsiders, anxious and maladroit. Given time, however, I'm sure he will adjust to our new status quo. There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I'm sure we'll settle here, eventually.
The new house is a dream, I love it, and the area is very agreeable; with lots of amenities and culture around the local area for Richard and I to enjoy. Yes, the more I think of it I'm positively sure we will make a home for ourselves here. That is, however, if we ever learn to interpret exactly what it is our neighbours are actually saying to us…”

Danny and Darren have had a very positive response to their exhibition and there is every sign that some very interesting opportunities may arise for them in the not-too-distant future. With work of this standard, there is no real reason for there not to be.

For more about: 
Danny Hill                
Darren Washington                   

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