Rebecca Chesney

Rebecca Chesney


Pine an' Fret
We are Local, Stalybridge 2023
Series of posters and billboards

At the beginning of this project while walking around Stalybridge I noticed a blue plaque on the wall of the old town hall building that reads: “The First General Strike, 1842. Originated in this area, beginning as a movement of resistance to the imposition of wage cuts in the mills, also known as the ‘Plug Riots’ it spread to involve nearly half a million workers throughout Britain and represented the biggest single exercise of working class strength in nineteenth century Britain”.
Using this as a starting point I wanted to find out more about the town’s history in connection to cotton manufacturing and working conditions. During the research phase of the project I read works by local poet Samuel Laycock, written at the time of the cotton famine (in the 1860’s), and I was struck at how relevant they remain today:

No wonder he should pine, an’ fret,
An’ look soa discontent;
For th’ gas-bill isn’t settled yet,
An’ th’ lon’lord wants his rent.

Samuel Laycock (1863)

Creative writing workshops were held in Stalybridge in 2023 to give an opportunity for people to express their own experiences in relation to health, work and the current cost of living crisis. Using some of the collected statements from the workshops, alongside quotes from Laycock's poems, I created a series of 7 posters.
Chesney Pine an Fret 04
Chesney Pine an Fret 05
Above: four of the seven riso posters made for the project.
Each poster 30 cm x 42 cm

Rebecca Chesney Pine an Fret 06
All the posters were on show in Pine an' Fret at Astley Cheetham Gallery in Stalybridge from September to December 2023.
The exhibition also featured paintings, drawings and artefacts selected from Tameside Borough Council's archive and collection to highlight the history of the town in connection to the first general strike, Chartism, riots, protest and trade unions.

Chesney Pine an Fret 01
Photo © Richard Tymon
Three of the posters have been made into billboards and displayed in Stalybridge in 2023

Chesney Pine an Fret 02
Photo © Richard Tymon

Rebecca Chesney pine an fret 07

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