rowland road working men's club

During the summer of 2019 we worked alongside Rowland Road Working Mens Club, Beeston - responding to their interest in testing out new approaches to open up the space as a resource for the wider community. We worked from a shared affection for collectively ran social spaces and in solidarity against an imposed austerity agenda that has decimated many shared assets once in the hands of local people.

‘It ends in love, exchange, fellowship. It ends as it begins, in motion, in between various modes of being and belonging,

 

on the way to new economies of giving, taking, being with and for and it ends’... in a working men’s club...

 

‘on the way to another place altogether.’ - The Wild Beyond by Jack Halberstam in the introduction to The Undercommons by Stefano Harney & Fred Moten. 

Work with the club included: clean ups, a car boot sale, organising creative workshops to activate the club differently, creating new copy and design for a flyer, developing a permanent car park mural and generally migrating our skills as cultural workers (Migrating Our Skills as Cultural Workers, Conversations Across Generations: Joon Lynn Goh interviews Janna Graham, Howlround, 2019) into the field of grassroots political action.

 

Our relationship with the club committee developed through conversations with local community organiser Katrine Bay Madsen whilst we were living and working down the road at Artist House 45. We understood our role as resourced, transient and foremost in support of a wider, continuing effort which extends the clubs legacy as a place for leisure, sociability and entertainment not without tensions or need for reflection.

The mural was a large part of the legacy of our combined efforts over the summer, as are the new memberships and continuing relationships with local people that led to new events, uses and plans for the future; including open mic nights and pakora stands. The mural combines painted shapes inspired by the buildings interior decor - overlaid with the silhouettes, taken from archival photographs, of the many committees who have contributed their time and energy to the place over it’s 100+ year history. The welcome message in font derived from the original RRWMC signage, practical and poetic, akin to that you find on a common doormat: simply

 

inviting people across the threshold.

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With thanks and gratitude: Katrine Bay Madsen, Steve, Jo and the wider Firth family as well as Ed Carlisle and South Leeds Life (Jeremy and Imran, Leeds Animation Workshop (Terry, Jo and Kat), Eleanor Cully and Yorkshire Sound Women’s Collective, Studio Polpo for their workshops ). Arts Council England, Leeds Inspired and East Street Arts.