The Tetley

Rob Kennedy: Do actors speak louder than words?

10 April - 15 June 2014

During his production residency between 10 April – 4 May 2014, Kennedy invited audiences into an informal conversation about how the visiting public use cultural establishments like The Tetley. Those conversations  influenced the artist’s interventions into spaces throughout the building. Visitors can encounter these interventions (both discrete and overt) as sculptural installations, impromptu performances and text works.

Kennedy was in residence at The Tetley from 12 – 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10 April – 4 May 2014.  A series of his interventions remain throughout the building until 31 August 2014.

Events included:

If you look at it that way 
Laura Dee Milnes
Friday 11th April between 6-8pm

Invited to participate in Rob Kennedy’s production residency, Laura will perform an intervention between bodies and building and invite individuals to capture a moment with her within the fabric of The Tetley itself. Exploring the possibilities of collaborative compositions, several shared experiences between audience and artist will develop overnight into a multi-layered reframing of the site, which will remain visible for the rest of the weekend in a physical form and beyond into the future, in the digital realm.

Sign of the the Times
Bernadette Russell and Rob Kennedy
Saturday 19th April between 12-4pm


This one day public workshop Sign of the Times invites you to answer the question, ‘What do you want?’ through the time-honoured medium of the placard, humble bearer of political protest and retail discount offers in our cities. Using the simple medium of the placard and one very open ended question, Rob and Bernadette will encourage people to discover something they wish to protest about, whether that be a need or desire, a proposal for or response to something, for a concrete thing or for something unrealisable. The placards will then be displayed tied to the railings fronting the Tetley building. Beyond the one day workshop, blank placards will be available at various points in the building so visitors can continue to add to the collection of desires creating something akin to roadside shrines, protest camps, special offers, strike action.

A selection of the works produced:

digitally printed beer mats, 2 designs, single print run of 500 each

A series of beermats used in the bar featuring a line drawing of the the well worn image of the Tetley huntsman. This debatable character with all his signs of class, affluence and historical lineage is proposed here as more of a cartoonish philosophical sage spouting aphorisms and questions about our ‘need for’ and ‘uses of’ culture. The beermats were produced as inconsequential objects that soak up the spillages of life, they are there to offer surprising or confounding points of departure during alcohol assisted conversation.

Text burnt onto melamine panels each 650 x 650mm

Burnt with a cigarette lighter onto melamine, these ‘graffitiesque’ text panels adorn various toilet cubicles throughout the building. Whilst I have played loose and free with Aesop’s fabled intention the original text is as pertinent now in the choices we make as social beings as it always has been. Being a captive audience in the midst of a private moment you can take your time pondering the now varying outcomes of the ant and the grasshopper’s relationship.


Short run of 25 digitally printed china plates and saucers

Randomly, customers in The Tetley restaurant, will find themselves eating or drinking from digitally dirtied crockery that on finishing their meal asks them to ponder questions that concern what they might actually be doing sat in a restaurant, in a public building that conveys questions and possible discussion through its display of objects of cultural heritage and contemporary art making.

‘A dyslexic man walks into a bra…’, 89mins (loop), HD video

Also in the bar a constant stream of jokes slowly scrolling on a large television screen is entitled ‘A man walks into a bra…’. It is made as a tribute to the inherent poetry found in puns and jibes, as a device to consider the differences between how we speak and how we write with language and as a painfully slow reflection on how all language can be twisted and turned in its endless pliability.


One of Rob’s interventions is a giant T noticeboard in the foyer. As Rob explains ‘I think you’ll be left with a more dynamic, arresting, cartoony, oddly seventies corporate looking notice board. Before I’d finished on Saturday there were already a couple of complaints from people who had come to see the lift. I attempted to explain the desire to make the building more understandable through the foyer dynamics but one of the complainants wasn’t really interested whilst the other saw the point especially after my explaining that the lift was unlikely to be running anytime soon.’