The Re-imagining of Sutton Scarsdale Hall, Derbyshire 

Project title: Preposterous Encounters Out-bye

A collaborative proposal in response to the call from the
Centre of Attention for the Pavilion of Postcontemporary

bricolagekitchen (Gillian Whiteley
oneoftheroughs (Geoff Bright

In the area around Sutton Scarsdale Hall, coal mining thrived into the mid-1990s. Since that time all coal mining in Derbyshire has ceased. The legacy of the industry remains, though, in continuing impoverishment, industrial disease, disability, pollution and a number of other socially related ills such as poor physical and mental health, high alcohol use, drug use, lower than average educational attainment and marginalisation of young people. According to national statistics, wards in local villages are commonly in the top 1% of most deprived neighbourhoods nationally. These tightly concentrated spaces of profound exclusion often sit concealed in what is now an area undergoing development and demographic change.

In coal mining the subterranean measure was taken in two directions ‘in-bye’ – in the direction of the coal face – and ‘out-bye’ – in the direction away from the coal face. This proposal works from the in-bye of the erased coalfaces of this part of Derbyshire to the contemporary out-bye of a cultural space denuded of an importantly insubordinate counter-history. The immediate locale of the hall is pleasantly rural and prosperous - in sharp contrast to the local former coal mining villages of Duckmanton and Arkwright Town and the Victorian ‘model’ village of New Bolsover. It is this present, revenant, contrast, ghosted from the history of the industry and, particularly, its exploitation under private ownership (as symbolised by the edifice of Sutton Scarsdale Hall) that our proposal dramatises and lampoons.

Our dialogical, utopian gesture aims to explore and preposterously call for the reversal of the parasitic histories of the former coal-owning landed aristocracy of North Derbyshire. We propose a project which would employ ‘dialogical aesthetics’  to initiate cross-community and inter-generational critical conversations, interrogating historical and contemporary boundaries of  class and economy.

Preposterous Encounters Out-bye would activate seanced voices of the ‘uncounted’ , bringing them from underneath (as both subterranean and subcutaneous) to the surface. It would aim to re-inscribe and re-connect the skeletal remains of Sutton Scarsdale Hall with the host, now spectral and (dis) connected, mining communities in which it resides. Using the ‘hauntological’ re-occupation of the Hall to initiate a process of ‘redemptive remembering’ , we re-imagine it as a container for ludically preposterous encounters. These contest the theft inherent in the private ownership of property and the allocation of mineral rights. Our proposal is counter-nostalgic and refuses the romanticising of ‘lost’ communities: conversely, it seeks a critical excavation of the radical histories and practices of resistant and utopian thinking sedimented into the culture of coal mining communities and the material fabric of the North Derbyshire coalfield.

We propose two linked phases :

Phase One : Cacophony of the ‘uncounted’
Having garnered sounds, inter-generational voices and imagery from the local community and built environment we will transpose them onto the  architectural remains in an engineered cacophony of noise and visual spectacle. This would aim to both confound the Romantic notion of the 'ruin' and openly contest contemporary discourses of ‘heritage’. Voices of local youth - the uncounted - would be physically embedded into the nooks and crannies of the structure. Sounds from the streets of Arkwright and Duckmanton would be installed under the floors and footfall would activate them. Working with notions of class history as injury and cicatrice, we would work to overlay tracings of coal-dust scarred skin and the remnant marks of industrial archaeology in a palimpsestual cartography, projected onto the interior walls of the ruin. A stream of moving images would be projected (via live webcam from Duckmanton Miners Welfare) onto the outside walls of the Hall.

Phase Two: Giving it [away] back
In a symbolic culminating gesture, we would stage a raffle to give back Sutton Scarsdale Hall to the local former coal-mining communities. Preposterously, only those proving a family connection to coal-mining would be eligible for tickets. Tickets would be free and the prize would be the Hall. The winner could do with it whatever they wanted – use it as space for graffiti, turn it into a youth centre or even, perfectly acceptably, squander it in much the same way as mineral wealth was squandered historically. Primarily, this utopian giving-away-back would be a momentary, if inherently impermanent, act of restitution.

Preposterous Encounters Out-bye is provocative, disruptive, impractical and utopian. In Paolo Virno’s terms it is insubordinate and disobedient – it refuses to be balefully aquiescent.

Preposterous Encounters Out-bye, while concretely realisable in full, equally offers a viable conceptual curatorial project. It could be produced as a printed foldout leaflet which could be displayed as a wall exhibit with a cacophony of voices on headphones/soundpost. The proposal could also be worked up for reproduction in a print publication.

1 Graffiti, 18th and 21st C , Sutton Scarsdale Hall (SSH)
2 Boarded-up shopfront, Duckmanton
3 Scratched stonework, SSH
4 East-facing frontage, SSH
5 Brickwork, Duckmanton Miners Welfare
6 View towards Arkwright, SSH
7 Wall marks, interior, SSH
8 Derelict shop, Duckmanton
9 East-facing frontage, SSH
10 Wall graffiti, SSH
11 Duckmanton Miners Welfare
12 Locked area, SSH
13 Grassed colliery spoil-heap, Arkwright
14 Skyward view, SSH
15 Smashed sign, Duckmanton Miners Welfare
16 Planted colliery spoil-heap, Arkwright
17 Graffiti, 18th and 21st century,SSH
18 Wind-worn stonework, interior, SSH
19/20 Fenced methane outlets, Arkwright. Arkwright Town was completely demolished in the 1990s because of methane pollution, strip-mining was carried out and the village was re-built.

All photographs were taken on location at Sutton Scarsdale Hall, Arkwright and Duckmanton by bricolagekitchen and oneoftheroughs December 2009

The proposed project emerges from the lived experiences and established socio-political preoccupations and initiatives currently pursued by the collaborators. bricolagekitchen focuses on transitory utopian spaces and temporary sites for radical practices and thinking. oneoftheroughs is concerned with the plight of marginalised young people in the former coalfield. His work, as both theorist and practitioner attempts to open up a disappeared history of insubordination and resistance. See further details attached.

COLLABORATORS – further details
bricolagekitchen, aka Dr Gillian Whiteley, is an interdisciplinary artist-improviser-curator-writer working across creative-critical boundaries. Her work focuses on trans-disciplinary cultural practices within socio-political contexts, from cultural activism and artists' collectives in the 1960s to contemporary practice. Current interests include transitory utopias, autonomous strands in Marxist thought, British ‘social realism’ and the Dutch Provos. She is currently preparing a paper entitled 'Transitory utopian potential: spontaneous models for creative critical communities' to deliver at the session, Artist Citizen: Catalyst, Collectives, and Utopias at the Annual Conference of the College Art Association (CAA) in Chicago in February 2010 In 2009, bricolagekitchen - a project space for inter-disciplinary collaborations exploring improvisation and the makeshift - presented Pan-demonium, a curatorial project involving over 50 artists, staged at AC Institute, New York. Recent curatorial projects include an exhibition, Radical Mayhem: Welfare State International and its Followers (Burnley, 2008), a multi-media collective which pioneered participative site-specific practices from 1968 to 2006. Recent publications include Pan-demonium, (2009), Jane Tormey/Gillian Whiteley (eds), Telling Stories: Countering Narrative in Art, Theory and Film, (2009) and an essay in H. Crawford (ed) Artistic Bedfellows: Histories, Theories and Conversations in Collaborative Art Practices (2008). Forthcoming publications include a book, Junk: Art and the Politics of Trash (IB Tauris, 2010) and an essay in S. Harper/L. Forster (eds) The Lost Decade: 1970s and British Visual Culture (2010). A founder member of the Politicized Practice Research Group, she is co-organising a symposium RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt  (February 2010) at Loughborough University. Past events include co-organising the international conference Sculpture and Design at the University of Brighton (2005) and an inter-disciplinary event, alien form(s): sound>space>sculpture at West Yorkshire Playhouse (1999). She is currently Honorary Editor of the Association of Art Historians’ quarterly review, The Art Book and Associate Editor of the forthcoming peer-reviewed journal, Art & The Public Sphere See

oneoftheroughs, aka Geoff Bright is a former trade union militant in the rail and steel industries who was directly involved in every major strike and resistance movement of the 1970s and 80s – particularly the miners’ strike of 1984-85. Now a practitioner, policy developer and researcher in Children and Young Adult services in Derbyshire he is currently writing up an autoethnographical PhD which – informed by the ‘critical pedagogy’ of Freire and McLaren - examines links between youth ‘disaffection’ and traditions of resistance and insubordination in parts of the former coalfield. He has presented on his work in Sweden, Austria and Estonia, as well as at academic and practitioner conferences in the UK and is actively publishing in editorially committed scholarly journals. He has a growing interest in looking at how local spaces and global spaces both generate and contain each other and might be linked in a politics of contemporary global ant-capitalist internationalism that re-imagines a new International
Geoff is also a free improvising musician on saxophones, guitar and voice. He develops improvising projects in partnership with other musicians under the name Racket Tackle and is a member of the collective, Gated Community. He sees a unifying radical practice in the deep links that exist between improvisation in performance, improvisation as a collective and militant research methodology in critical social research, and improvisatory forms of resistant political action. He is currently bringing together an improvisatory project under the title The Shape of the Inconstruable Question which draws inspiration from the work of Ernst Bloch.
2000  Pedagogy of the Oppressed or Social Control? Provision for ‘Disaffected’ 14-16yr olds in FE Colleges – Published as part of proceedings of the conference (cd-rom), Learning and Skills Research Network , University of Cambridge

2009  “NEET Speaks” – Report of LSC funded research project in Doncaster MBC, Co-authored paper Hughes, D, Davies, D., Bright,G. and Dyke, S.  International Centre of Guidance Studies (iCEGS), University of Derby

2009   Writing In-bye and Out-bye - Doing Auto/ethnography Proceedings of the European Educational Policy and Practice Intensive programme at Haapsalu, Estonia, August 2008, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University'

2010  “Just doing stuff”? Place, memory and youth educational disaffection in a UK Former coalfield”, in International Journal on School Disaffection, Vol 7, no. 1

Forthcoming Publications

2010 Off ‘The Model’: Resistant Places, School Disaffection and ‘Aspiration’ in a Former UK Coalfield, journal article in Children’s Geographies special issue on ‘Aspiration’.