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International Workers Day or May Day,  traditionally falls on May 1st. Some countries recognise the day as a holiday, others have alternative days, some countries have no International Workers Day.

Ouseburn Bridge Pottery: Rules & Regulations  could leave a worker at the end of the day out of pocket and owing the owner, Maling’s, cash for breaking the many stringent ‘Rules & Regulation’.  Many of the workers employed were women  and girls, working in unhealthy and dangerous conditions. Dating from mid 1800’s, Ouseburn Bridge Pottery; Rules & Regulations remind the workers how expendable their jobs were, there were plenty of low paid workers waiting in the wings.  A larger, spacious pottery developed later with better ventilation and light.  These were working conditions that were fought for by  organised labour all over the country.

Ouseburn bridge rules1Printed onto fabric clothing patterns, the pottery rules dictatorial voice is ingrained into the clothing patterns  using printed typesetting, referencing the tradition of North East broadsides and the narrative of the working class. Originally conceived as a printed piece of work to accompany the International Print Biennale and exhibited during the Biennale at 36 Lime Street Gallery, the work has significant poignancy today, May 1st 2015, International Workers Day, a reminder of the progress of Trade Unionism & workers rights.  It is also a reminder of the stringent anti-trade union laws, dating back to the era of Margaret Thatcher, non of which (as I know) have ever been revoked by a Labour Government.  This hasn’t diminished the recent formation of Artists’ Union England (AUE) by a group of artists working closely with their sister trade union, Scottish Artists Union and other trade unions. One year on AUE grows from strength to strength.

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