Stuart Whipps: The Carboniferous Epoch

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
Collection Space
Saturday 16th October 2021 - Sunday 2nd January 2022


Stuart Whipps’s 14 minute film ’The Carboniferous Epoch’ examines how the North East’s new towns – especially Peterlee – built during the optimism of post-war Britain – have become landscapes of either mass consumption or high unemployment in a single generation.

The film is part of a series each examining different new towns.  This was the first to be completed, based on archival documents and footage about Peterlee in County Durham. ’Necessary Amendments’ about Milton Keynes followed in 2019, and ’Homes for the People’ about Harlow, Basildon and Hatfield is the most recent film, completed in 2020.

Whipps’s method is almost that of a renegade archivist, unearthing improbable or illuminating images and ideas buried within our recent shared history. In his own words, he ”often makes work about things he doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to do”. England’s new towns were created by parliamentary legislation almost immediately after the Second World War, being built during a period of enormous optimism about how the future could be remade.

Commissioned by Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and North-East Photography Network








Photos: Colin Davison
Contact: ︎ Jonathan.weston@sunderlandculture.org.uk