It’s 50 years since we met the loveable Billy Casper, a young working-class boy troubled at home and at school, who finds and trains a kestrel he calls ‘Kes’. A new exhibition at Sheffield University this month is marking the occasion as well as celebrating the life and work of acclaimed author Barry Hines.
Called Untameable, it highlights Hines’s dogged determination over three decades to write about the changing personal and political landscapes of working-class life in South Yorkshire. Hines was a man who wrote for and from his community, and unflinchingly chronicled the social injustices he witnessed.
This included the failure of the education system and lack of opportunity found in A Kestrel for a Knave; the examination of land ownership and alienated labour in The Gamekeeper; as well as the devastating effect that Thatcherism had on Sheffield in Looks and Smiles, and the increasingly toxic climate of nuclear threat during the 1980s in Threads.
The show features a 240-panel artwork produced by Patrick Murphy) and Anton Want in response to Barry Hines’s writing and his archive held at The University of Sheffield Library. The artists worked closely with Dr David Forrest from the School of English on developing the project and exploring the archive.
If you pop along, you can also see a large artwork of Billy Casper flying his bird, Kes, located on the windows of the Arts Tower, and ride in the lift with a lifesize Mr Sugden the infamous PE teacher played in the film ‘Kes’ by Brian Glover. You can also fill out a ‘Dear Barry’ postcard with thoughts and memories of his work which will then be included back into the archive.
“The novels, films and television dramas are just as relevant now as they were 50 years ago, says Patrick Murphy. “The show allowed me to explore my hometown of Barnsley visually and to create artworks specifically referencing this. The text pieces were produced on a 1969 typewriter I bought for this project referencing Hines time working in the Arts Tower.”
Along with the exhibition, which runs until 20 December, there’s an accompanying book, Untameable, which visually explores the Hines Archive and includes a 50th-anniversary print ‘Billy & Kes’ both available from patrickmurphystudio.co.uk.
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