Preview: Playtoon Exhibition @ Holy Biscuit
It is rare these days that we hear of a group of creative, sociable and entrepreneurial youngsters reinventing mostly unused areas of cityscape to proactively occupy their time and, in many cases, to make a living for themselves; this according to Michael Jeffries, Geography Lecturer at Northumbria University is due to the fact that the council views skaters as a feral and unwanted presence.
First becoming aware of the skating subculture when a skateboarder flew over his head as he was leading a walking tour of the city’s 60’s architecture, Jeffries soon found himself emerged in what he describes as a hidden world that exists parallel to the Newcastle that is experienced from the general public. After examining city planning documents Jeffries saw a struggle for power in the city, and believes that the reason the skate subculture is viewed as a nuisance is due to the fact that they use the city in a way that doesn’t cost them money, and therefore get in the way of the ‘valued customer’.
Having become involved with the local skate scene and developing academic research to suggest that the city should be investing in helping sustain the scene rather than attempting to design them out – he tells me that Gateshead council recently invested £11,000 in a skate park because the public felt safer when the skaters were around occupying themselves, as opposed to groups of loiterers. Skating gives them something to occupy their time and keeps them creative, with many young people pursuing careers in creative fields like photography, the arts, music, blogging and web design.
Jeffries believes that these youngsters are to be celebrated and promoted rather than hidden away from the public eye, and is out to break the stereotypes of both the skater as a wasteful inconvenience and the city as a town for drinking and hen parties.
The latest incarnation of his PlayToon initiative sees things culminating in a week long exhibition of photography and video from Wednesday 16th to Wednesday 23rd May, including a day of live action skating and free running on Saturday 19th all at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley.
See the PlayToon exhibition from Wednesday 16th to Wednesday 23rd May and witness some of the live action during PlayOut at the Holy Biscuit, Newcastle on Saturday 19th May, as part of the Late Shows programme.
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