Gillygate York is a beautiful old street with an evolving attitude and is just outside the city walls. It’s not a well-documented or archived street but it has a catalogue of modern threats of closure and an eccentric artisan past. Once home to a medieval landscape, a small hold farm, stables, 18th century housing, St Giles Church, a skating rink, tramlines and a fully working mechanical garage. Gillygate now homes an eclectic mix of independent trading shops, cafes, pubs, music stores, vintage clothes shops, fancy dress, craft shops, an adult shop, hair salons (among many other independently ran business) and residential homes as well as the Salvation Army (as at the date of writing). Gillygate, bizarre and so homemade.
When York City Art Gallery reopened its doors this Summer as part of a massive re-development project, a new work was exhibited alongside historic paintings and drawings of York. This work, a video and neon text installation is a new contemporary work by artists Gary Winters and Associate Professor of Theatre Claire Hind entitled ‘We Made Something of This’.
We Made Something of This is a portrait of Gillygate as it was during summer 2014 captured on Super 8mm film and using stories, anecdotes and facts gathered from its residents and proprietors. The film also includes footage of an inaugural feast day performance by the artists held on September 1st celebrating the street’s namesake, Giles – the patron saint of hermits and nocturnal terrors. Gary and Claire have said that “being on the edge of the city, we feel Gillygate still lives up to its patron’s name.” Gillygate named after Giles, the kind and noble quiet one who was nurtured by a hind then, away from it all, saved its life – took an arrow for it and lived on as a Saint.
Our neon light represents the spirit, creativity and determination of those who live and work on Gillygate and those who have risen above the threats of commercialism and the struggles of modern day trading. Our neon light also represents our work, our relationship to the street, the materials we use and the way in which we find serendipity in our projects with and the stories that unfold.
Gillygate for Nina and her garden’s hidden treasures.
Gillygate for Ken and his pie in the oven.
Gillygate for Phil who bakes bread ‘till late.
Gillygate for Paul who wears an arrow through his head whilst listening to Frank Sinatra.
Gillygate for Hamish and his cat.
We Made Something of This is on view at York Art Gallery until March 2016. For more information about Gary and Claire’s projects visit www.garyandclaire.com.