Hurriers: Poor on the Roll

2 Dec 2021–5 Dec 2021


Hurriers: Poor on the Roll co-curated by Anne Robinson and Frances Hatherley features new work by: Anne Robinson, Charlotte Squire, Lou Barnell, Ana Bennloch, Kathleen Mullaniff, and Shaheeda Sinckler: inter generational conversations about class, sexuality and working bodies, emerging from the collaborative processes of working on The Hurrier during 2021. The Hurrier uses experimental sound, film, peformance and imagiative time travel to expand unseen historical moments in the lives of the undocumented.  At APT, the piece will be shown as a video installation in the gallery for four days accompanied by works by all artists involved in the the project, and historical research materials. 

The real ‘hurriers’ were women, who hauled and carried coal through narrow mine passages, through the trapper doors, on their knees, through water and up hill, until the mid nineteenth century. ‘I have a belt round my waist, and a chain passing between my legs, and I go on my hands and feet…' (Ashley Mines Commission, 1842).  

This ‘Hurrier’ is a time traveller.. this ‘Hurrier’ alights in bodies, expanding time and transmitting to the future. The work was developed through collaborations with performers and makers on improvisation, props, song and film experiments, working frame by frame and in the space between: a space to escape to when your time is regulated and brutal. A no-place and a no-time.. where other things become possible. (Simon O’Sullivan on ‘fictioning’)..

Robinson’s matrilineal ancestors lived in the Scottish mining village of Dailly and throughout the 19th century, were repeatedly summoned before the ‘Kirk Sessions’ - dark Sunday afternoons where church elders compelled young women to tell them tales of sex: chastised and rebuked for the ’sin and scandal of fornication’. Some died in the workhouse, leaving only a record of their sexuality and debts in dusty archive ledgers.. The same bodies were punished by the violence of labour and for their wayward sexuality, and for the greatest working class sin of all: idleness. 

…a great deal of energy goes into inscribing, depicting, categorising and degrading the working classes as enemy. (sociologist, Beverley Skeggs) 

The Hurrier echoes today’s class exploitation and exclusions, and the tyranny of debt. In a shocking reversals of fortune, life expectancy between rich and poor is the widening all over again.. ‘working class’ today means Shameless, TOWIE or Benefits Street… the underserving, idle poor are always with us and could easily get off the dole and get a robot job.. work is violence, class a curse of empire lies. This is a song of resistance, a love song for exploited bodies, then and now.  During the show, there will be workshops, an artists’ conversation, performance and collaboration with the Feminist library. 

Anne Robinson is a multidisciplinary artist whose experimental practice is concerned with the perception and politics of time passing, working with painting, film, sound and curating. She currently teaches at Middlesex University. Recent works include: Thrashing in the Static (2015) and Over Time (2014)  as well as curating Supernormal Festival. 

Frances Hatherley is a writer, researcher and curator. Her PhD research explored the intersections of class and gender in the formation of grotesque and sublime femininities, in art, literature, film, and popular culture, with the intention of reclaiming negative stereotypical representations of women. Her published writing provides critical engagements with working-class women’s subjectivities, creativities, art works, and notions of a classed-aesthetics. Frances’ first book Class Slippers: Jo Spence on Fantasy, Photography & Fairy Tales, was published December 2020.  

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