12 years on from the Scampi Factory is a single portrait inspired by photographer Kraig Wilson portrait of his sister, Joanne. This portrait is now a part of the Durham University Western Art Collection. Scroll down to view the new portrait and scroll down to hear the conversation between Mark Parham and Kraig Wilson about the cultural relevance of this work.
Kraig Wilson’s original photographic portrait of his sister Jo in 2009, had a profound effect on me and I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Kraig about his original piece. This conversation was 12 years in the making, eventually asking Kraig for his blessing to re-visit the photograph exploring where Jo is today through the portrait ’12 years on from the Scampi Factory’.
I had never met Jo before however like many people had been captivated by Kraig’s original photo. The back story to Kraig’s original piece was filled in by Jo when I visited her. Back then Jo had just finished work at the scampi factory and was knackered, the side narrative to this was that she had also moved back to her parent’s house and was going through a painful divorce.
When I met Jo I felt an overwhelming sense of privilege, I admired her openness and was grateful to her for letting me photograph her again. Jo is now 39 and living in Scarborough with her long term partner Shaun. After years of bar work, Jo is now a Health Care Assistant at a nursing home.
To say Jo is a story of survival would in my opinion not only be patronising it would somewhat miss the point. Like everyone else, Jo is getting on with life and moving forward in her way. These are essentially 2 portraits at two different stages – good, bad or indifferent she is dictating her own path.
In between telling me plans for how is going to celebrate her 40th birthday, Jo confided she believes she has finally found her vocation. Gathering her life experiences together has been a catalyst for Jo as she plans to study and explore mental health and dementia alongside her care work.
Listen to Mark Parham discuss the work with Kraig Wilson
What does it mean to be working class?
16th March – 15th May
Kev Howard // Shonagh Short // Erin Dickson // John James Perangie// Mark Parham.
Working Class is a socioeconomic term used to describe persons in a social class mainly defined by your job. Physical labour, low pay, limited skills are only some definitions of being working class. Being working-class can be worn as a badge of honour to some and a shameful forgotten status to others. Some careers can seem unattainable to people from a working-class background, the arts being a big one! In a 2018 study, Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries, collected almost 300 hours of interviews with creative professionals collected following a national survey. The percentage of people working in publishing with working-class origins was 12.6%. In film, TV and radio it was 12.4%, and in music, performing and visual arts, 18.2%.
Creative organisations are struggling to keep their doors open due to UK COVID-19 lockdown. Redundancies are rampant, and opportunities and jobs are lacking. Working Class identity in the arts will decline as with barley no financial help to keep every creative career going. We need diverse voices in the arts, and it’s more important now than ever to show working-class people that creative roles are not just for the elite. This exhibition explores theme of the importance of working class narratives through art commissions.