The Empathy Tower

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John Harrison
The Empathy Tower

In response to the film I, Daniel Blake, artist John Harrison re-created the Job Seeker experience in the middle of Northumberland Street. Inviting interrogation of increasingly script-led, automated benefits system, you are invited to ‘sign on’. Take the small block of wood and sign your message to show support for anyone; friends, colleagues, family members who may have been through or are going through the benefits system. These blocks will form an dynamic Empathy Tower in the middle of Northumberland Street.

The resulting tower wend on public display in the Newbridge Project Space on 30th October 2016 following a special screening of I, Daniel Blake and Q&A at the Tyneside Cinema.

I Daniel Blake, is a new film (2016) from Ken Loach, portraying the life of a hardworking joiner who, following a heart attack, finds himself caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy when for the first time ever he requires help from the State.

Winner of the Palm D’Or Cannes Film festival award, critics describe it as “A protest cry for humanity”. “A succinct and furious raging against the dying of the light” and “A ballad for the common man”.

In the 1960s, Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home caused such an over-whelming public outcry that it changed housing policy. The hope is that this film will spark a similar outcry and build public support for a fairer social security system

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Artist Bio: John Harrison originally studied Industrial Design at Newcastle Art College (Bath Lane). Later he graduated with Masters of Science Degree (Distinction) from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art – Dundee. A full-time visual creator since joining DMA Design in 1994, John has worked both professionally and experimentally across multimedia platforms for a number of years. Having collaborated with a number of artists on larger projects, John continues to seek collaborations across all media. Most recently lecturing animation at Abertay University, Dundee, he now lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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Hidden Civil War was a month long programme of events and exhibitions across Newcastle upon Tyne that exposed, collated and presented evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today.  Hidden Civil War, a collaborative project, commissioned by The NewBridge Project and developed in partnership with East St Arts, Hands on Film Lab, Metal, Paper Rhino, Mark Donne, Taryn Edmonds, Chris Erskine, Julia Heslop, Beth Ramsay, Julie Tomlin, Vicky Ward and Aisha Zia. Hidden Civil War was delivered with the support of partner venues; Cobalt Studios, Tyne Theatre, Summerhill Bowling Club and The Cumberland Arms. Accompanying publication, The Precariat is produced by Paper Rhino.

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The Newbridge Project