Cachet was the result of a residency in Margate with Turner Contemporary, Kent County Council and Dreamland, as part of the Cultural Baton preceding the 2012 Olympic Games.
The residency was the first at Turner Contemporary as it opened in April 2011 and was about the history of youth subcultures in the town. My take was that this was very much a working-class part of the town’s cultural and creative past and identity. My idea was to get the people who participated in this creativity on the walls of the gallery and physically into the gallery itself.
The results were shown in the gallery’s second show, Nothing in the World But Youth, which also included work by Andy Warhol, Banksy, David Bowie, Rodin, Peter Blake, Mark Gubb, Tracey Emin and JMW Turner.
I mapped the town of Margate through the eyes of Teddy Boys, mods, rockers, skinheads, punks, bikers and other subcultures, picking up on important venues, hang-out spots and social spaces from 1950 to 2000. The social practice engagement took place via word of mouth, social media and my own presence in a small Airstream caravan that took the project to areas not associated with the arts, such as estates and car parks facing HMOs.
My final work consisted of portraits of participants in 2011 and in their youth, as well as text taken from interviews with most of the 25 participants. I also wrote the lead essay for the exhibition catalogue and an article for the Guardian. There was an accompanying lecture at Turner Contemporary, film programme and an evening of celebration. For this, I recreated The Ship – a pub that used to sit on the site that Turner Contemporary now occupies.
That evening and the project are still talked about fondly in the town and I have been asked to speak about it in many locations, including Liverpool John Moores University and the Museum of Youth Culture in London. It has also been cited in academic studies and in many publications. Several participants went on to enter or re-enter full time education as a result of their participation, whereas others began or re-started creative projects of their own.
I further explored these themes in a piece for Google’s Arts & Culture pages.