Artist Pete McKee has revealed a new, upcoming exhibition, This Class Works, to explore and celebrate Britain’s working class. Different to anything he has done before, the show is a collaboration between Pete and fellow artists, filmmakers and photographers who share an affinity for the theme.
It will take place from 14–29 July 2018 at 92 Burton Road, a huge warehouse space in Pete’s hometown of Sheffield. He said: “The exhibition aims to re-address the unbalance that currently exists in media and society. Unbalance that seems to deride and tar the working class as lazy, selfish, needy, ignorant, intolerant, worthless and the cause of all societies problems.
“It’s important for me to show the spirit of the working class; the pride, hope, fight, passion and resourcefulness that has been their foundation. I grew up on a council estate, the youngest of four. My dad was a steelworker and my mum a factory line worker and everyone around us was as poor as we were, practically everything in our house was bought on the never-never, half my clothes didn’t fit and the other half had been previously worn by someone else.
“I look back on those times with fondness of how we seemed to survive on tenacity and an unfailing hope that better was around the corner. I want the exhibition to highlight the nobleness and dignity of the working class, then and now and for those who visit this exhibition to leave exhilarated and enlightened to its beauty.”
The exhibition, which immediately suggests nostalgia but puts a modern perspective on its themes, connects a younger generation to a conversation about the values and value of the working class, explores many areas of working class life: the journey to and from work; the clothes at work and home; the effects of industrial accidents on family life; how poverty shapes children’s perceptions of the world; social interaction and solidarity in the community; love and family; and how to cope with having nothing when you work all the time all feature.
It also celebrates the working class’s resourcefulness and explores prejudice from other classes as well as exploring what the working class is in today’s society when the younger generation is perhaps more aspirational.
Pete started work as a cartoonist before taking up painting. As a child, he would copy the Andy Capp cartoons from the back of the Daily Mirror after his dad had finished with the paper, enjoying that the cartoon style can communicate a lot with just a few simple lines.
During his illustrious career, Pete has been commissioned by Oasis, Paul Smith, the Arctic Monkeys, Disney, Warp Films and Richard Hawley among others. He is an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust and a patron of Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital. Last year, he raised £46,686 for Teenage Cancer Trust with the sales of his limited edition screen prints inspired by The Who, Paul Weller, Pet Shop Boys and Ed Sheeran, to commemorate the charity’s 100th show at the Royal Albert Hall.
This Class Works runs for 16 days only and you’ll need to buy a ticket and book a time slot to visit the exhibition. Tickets, costing £5 each, including an exhibition programme, can be purchased online at www.thisclassworks.com.