Technical Journal – White Label

I wanted to create and replicate the undulations of a record where the label is attached, so I initially attempted to emboss by rubbing a spoon over a piece of paper on top of a record centre label. The results were underwhelming so I decided to make an embossing form from cardboard.


Again I used a spoon although the results were better but still not sharp enough. So I reused the cardboard ring offcut and used a roller, sandwiching the paper between the form and the offcut. The results were much sharper.


I fashioned a burnisher from a scrap of cardboard to accommodate the circular embossed form but I felt this could facilitated by creating a negative version of the base so that the paper can be properly sandwiched without the need for burnishing.


Here I have used some tape to fix the inner ring in position. This is a bit flimsy so I glued the top section onto a piece of card.



Although the embossing was successful I was concerned that the quality would deteriorate from wear and tear of the cardboard form. I felt it was necessary to have a form made from something more substantial.


Here are the tools required:
The form in two parts, top and bottom
A roller
A scalpel
A leather punch
A hammer
A pencil
A stencil (this one is made from glass)


This is laser etched wood and I have inserted dowels for accurate registration.


Place a sheet of paper between and used a roller to emboss.


Flip the form over, as this is the top, and draw a circle through the hole.


Use a leather punch and a hammer to pierce the spindle hole.


If you cannot find a suitable circular paper cutter then use a stencil to cut out the label. I used a piece of coloured glass as I have a circular glass cutter. I also flipped the paper over so that the stencil sits in the outer edge recess, making it easier to line up and cut with a scalpel.

“Got any White Labels mate?”

According to the term “white label” refers to vinyl records which have a plain white centre label, usually in plain packaging. This label can have hand-written or rubber stamped details of the artist and its title or a sticker.

  • Some of these are test pressings to check the sound quality and are usually in quantities of 5 or less.
  • Some are promotional copies sent to retailers or DJs and are a black and white facsimile of the record company’s label, with the background colour removed and details printed with additional wording such as “promo copy only”.
  • Sometimes white labels are used to conceal the artist’s identities so that the record can be listened to without any preconceived prejudices.
  • Producers may supply copies to dance clubs to gauge the crowd’s reactions to a new release.
  • There are also unauthorised copies and remixes from independent DJs/Producers without the artist’s or record companies consent.
  • Competing DJs would tear off the original label or cover up with a plain white label to conceal what record they were playing.
  • Generally not distributed for sale to the general public.

The two final points allude to the rarity of white label records, their intended anonymity and particularly the “gatekeeping” practices of DJs which is of interest to me. The subcultural capital afforded to these limited edition pressings manifests to many on the outside as elitism. The authentic and original is a closely guarded secret aware to only those in the know. I found an Ebay advert for a limited edition 12” single for sale. The seller provided a photograph of the item in question.

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What struck me was the fact that by providing a photo of a white record label, without any identifying features, The seller assumes that the prospective “in the know” punters would identify this as the “real deal”, whereas to anyone on the “outside” it’s just a white record label without any information to suggest that this is in fact that particular record. This ambiguity interests me and I want to present white labels as the currency of subcultural capital.

Sketchbook – Initial ideas – the kudos of white labels.

I printed a black and white copy of the white label from the Ebay advert and mount it in an oversize frame. The fact that it is a printed photocopy and not an original, creates tension regarding that label’s authenticity.


The currency of subcultural capital and commodity fetishism has inspired me to present the white label as a desirable object on its own terms. I had previously cut out a circle of white paper with centre-hole in the middle, but this looked very bland and flat. I looked at a white label record and noticed the contours where it has been attached to the record, so I decided to replicate these undulations.


I eventually created an embossing stamp, first from cardboard and then from laser engraved wood. A piece of paper is sandwiched between and pressed or rolled and then trimmed.


Self-adhesive white labels are available to buy and plain CD stickers can be adapted. However these are mass-produced for the DJ/record producer market. I wanted to produce individual hand-crafted bespoke labels with the emphasis on quality using a laser engraved jig on the finest plain paper, trimmed to size using a handmade stencil. This implies commodity fetishism as the label itself has an intrinsic value as a handmade object, despite being cheap to make.

Technical Journal – Digital Embroidery

Save as “.eps” file in Adobe illustrator, or similar vector drawing package.


Export as “.tiff” to the Bernina software on PC

  • Drag and drop to “Art Canvas”
  • “Auto Digitiser” reduce colours   
  • Type “4” in this instance, click “OK”


My original designs were done using an open-source vector package, Inkscape, which is similar to Illustrator but I was unable to save in the desired format for exporting to the Bernina software. We had to redo the lettering around the edge of each patch design.


‘Object Properties” – For redoing the typographic elements

  • “Height” = 6.5
  • “Width” – 43
  • “Baseline Radius” = 4.0 and 5.0


File – select



Card/Machine Write



Select device



Either USB if the sewing machine is not attached to the PC, or straight to a connected sewing machine.



USB connected to standalone Bernina 580.



Bobbin is inserted in the compartment under the sewing machine needle. This stitches the underneath of the cloth.



Attach cloth to the hoop and tighten.



Load the first colour thread. This will need to be changed when the next colour is ready to embroider.



Pull the thread through and attach to needle.



Through the needle but not through the needle guard.



Switch on when you are set up with the correct colour thread.



The red layer being done.



The finished embroidered patches on the hoop with the digital version on the Bernina software.



The “home” screen on the Bernina 580. Choose the hoop on the right.



The first colour – blue.



The third pass is red, remember to change the thread on the machine.



There are registration issues with this set up. Bernina is a domestic set up and not quite consistent industry standard.



Finished Patches

“Patches? We don’t need no stinking patches!”

Misquote from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948


My creative practice has evolved around the practices of appropriation snd re-contextualisation which are also common within subcultures, for example taking items of clothing and affording them subcultural capital by constructing a unique style. I decided to use the Northern Soul patch as a basic format and subsume elements and argot from another subculture, the swingjugend (Swing Youth). 


The swing youth was a German group of young jazz and swing enthusiasts during 1930s/40s mainly around Hamburg and Berlin. Their admiration for American jazz, British dress style as well as the rejection of  National Socialism was always going to put them at odds with the authorities.


fullsizeoutput_22cMy initial sketches follow the “house style” and format of the Northern Soul patch. The wording states the clubs they visit and the slang used within that scene. Along with the typical jazz saxophone I have included a “jazz hand” salute. Northern Soul devotees appropriated the “black power” clenched fist salute, whereas I have countered that assertive symbol with a less provocative hands wave.  However, I have decided that this passive gesture could be reinterpreted using labanotation. The labanotation symbols have a runic appearance which alludes to early North European history and culture. Runic symbolism is currently being apppropriated by alt-right groups and presenting the jazz hand salute as a labanotation symbol appears sinister on the surface. Subcultures have a tendency to present an edgy version of itself, aided and abetted by the media, which can be misinterpreted by the general public. This tension between the public face of the Subculture and it’s symbiotic relationship with the media.



These patch designs were generated using a digital illustration package and then converted for digital embroidery.

Notes 1 – Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital – Sarah Thornton

Exploring the Meaning of the Mainstream (or why Sharon and Tracy dance around their handbags)


Academics Accounts of the Cultural Organization of Youth

Academic writers on youth culture have relied on binary oppositions generated by us-versus-them social maps and using loaded terms like “mainstream” with academic arguments, depicting mainstream youth culture as an outpost of the “mass” or “dominant” culture.

Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style (1979) uses the mainstream to measure the youth’s “resistance through rituals” and subversion through style. The mainstream according to Hebdige is abstract and ahistorical. For example, comparing punk apparel to high street fashions and the anti-dancing to “conventional courtship patterns of the dancefloor” (Hebdige, 1979: 108) prevalent at provincial dancehalls. From my own personal memory, punks and “soul boys” initially wore similar cloths; plastic sandals, mohair jumpers etc. Both soul scenes, Northern Soul and the Southern “funk-orientated” Soul, revolve around dancing unconventionally to rare, old and imported African-American popular music.

Each reference to the mainstream is presented as a version of the bourgeoisie whose function is to be shocked. Subcultural youth are characterised as predominantly working class which is not a true reflection youth culture as a whole. Inconsistent fantasies of the mainstream are rampant in subcultural studies. Geoff Mungham’s article “Youth in Pursuit of itself” is research done at a provincial Mecca dancehall. Here he searches for the mundane, positioning the study as a counterbalance to sociology’s orientation towards the spectacular, emphasising conformity and conservatism. The dancing is described as a “Meccanization of the sexual impulse” (Mungham, 1976: 92).

Hebdige perceives his mainstream as bourgeois and the subcultural youth as an artistic vanguard. Whereas Mungham sees it as a stagnant “mass” and the “others” are creative and challenging.

Angela McRobbie maintains the binary opposition between the mainstream and “subcultural alternatives”, but suggests that dancing offers creative expression, control and resistance for girls and women in either space. Simon Frith contrasts the culture of middle class students and working class school leavers. The “sixth-form culture” of buying albums, listening to progressive rock and attending rock concerts, whereas the “lower-fifth-form culture” of buying singles listening to commercial music and going to discos (cf. Frith 1981a), outlines a distinction between rock and pop culture. Pop culture is both younger and predominantly female as well as being working class. Stephen Evans finds two distinct nightclub cultures, one commercial and the other alternative. The commercial culture is working class and mainstream and the alternative culture focuses on the latest development in dance music and are attended mainly by students.

There is a contradiction within subcultural studies where one positions the mainstream as a middle class, dominant culture while the other describes it as “mass” culture. However since the 1990s these dichotomies are challenged. Lawrence Grossberg asserts that subcultures and the mainstream have fluid boundaries and are indistinguishable and “the mass audience of pop, the mainstream of style, is the postmodern subculture” (Grossberg, 1987: 151). It is an appealing argument but Grossberg ignores the social significance of the concept of the mainstream to subcultures which is stronger in Britain. He pictures youth as a homogeneous mass.

The Social Logic of Subcultural Capital

Club culture is faddish and fragmented. Many clubbers constantly catalogue and classify youth cultures according to taste in music, forms of dance, kinds of ritual and styles of clothing. Although most clubbers struggle to classify their own crowd they are happy to identify a homogeneous crowd that they do not belong and locate the mainstream in the “chartpop disco” of the Mecca dancehall, a place where “Sharon and Tracy dance around their handbags”. This unhip crowd were denigrated for having indiscriminate music tastes and being amateurs in the art of clubbing, turning up with that uncool feminine appendage – the handbag.

At its height acid house was subject to extensive media coverage and ravers began to talk of a new mainstream, a second-wave of media-inspired acid house fans. When the culture came to be positioned as mainstream it was feminised. The coincided with the dominance of house and techno compilation albums bringing the music to the masses. The music even came to be called “handbag house”, danced to by “Techno Tracys” and raving Sharons, exhibiting the burlesque exaggerations of an imagined other. Techno Tracys and Acid Teds, like like yuppies or lager louts are more than euphemisms of social class, they reveal the cultural values and social world of hardcore ravers. These personifications of the mainstream have class connotations. Sharon and Tracy, rather than Camilla or Imogen, are trapped in their class and do not enjoy the classless autonomy of “hip” youth. The recurrent trope of the handbag is something associated with mature women, not a sartorial sign of youth culture but a symbol the shackles of the housewife.

Young people espouse a different “order of prestige symbols” as they cannot compete with adults for occupational status (Parsons, 1964: 94). The investment in leisure enables youth to reject being fixed socially. Youth culture is attractive to people well beyond their youth as it delays “social aging” enjoying a reprieve from necessity.

The differential earnings of young men and women contributes to the masculine bias of subcultural capital and the feminine representation of the mainstream. Girls go out dancing more than boys and generally start clubbing at a younger age and is the only out-of-home leisure activity that women do more often than men. Young men are more likely to attend a sporting event and the first choice for an evening out is the pub, whereas for women it’s a dance club. Women are more likely to identify their taste in music as pop and spend less time and money on music and more on clothes and cosmetics. Men regard the label “mainstream” as “unhip” whereas women understand it as “another way of saying popular music” (Christenson and Peterson, 1988: 298). Women tend to use music “in the service of secondary gratifications (eg to improve mood, feel less alone) and as general background activity”. The male use of music is “central and personal” whereas the female orientation to music is “instrumental and social” (Christensen and Peterson, 1988: 299).

The Sharon and Tracy image is a position statement made by subcultural youth about girls who are not culturally “one of the boys”. Subcultural capital seems to be the currency which legitimises unequal statuses. It has been argued that mass culture has been positioned as feminine by high cultural theorists and these views are replayed among youth cultures which devalues girls’ cultures as imitative and passive. The authentic culture is depicted gender-free or masculine, the prerogative of boys.

British youth have a habit of borrowing from African-American and Afro-Caribbean culture. Even the word “hip” derives from black “jive talk”. Subcultural capital is the linchpin of an alternative hierarchy where age, gender, sexuality, and race are employed to keep the determinations of class, income and occupation at bay. It reveals itself by its dislikes and and what it emphatically is not.

Participation versus Observation of Dance Crowds

The two methods that make up ethnography – participation and observation are often in conflict. By participating you adopt the views of the group and what it says, whereas by observing you give credence to what you see, subjectivism (participation) versus objectivism (subjectivism). Both modes of thought are too one-sided to describe the social world. The author during her research could not find a crowd that could be identified as typical, average or mainstream. Although she did observe the old and new mainstreams together in the same room where the music alternated between chart pop and house/techno. The practices and participants of the dance floor fluctuated with the shift in genres, from mostly female to totally male. To apply the label “mainstream” would denigrate this crowd. Ethnography is best suited to observing the diverse and particular. The mainstream is an abstraction of the general.

In 1992, Mecca realised that their branding policy was backfiring as they were intent that their brand would become generic. This branding presented them negatively as the mainstream. Mecca abandoned the unifying brands’ and renamed each of their venues individually (Mintel, 1992). However, Mecca dancehalls have been the home of spectacular subcultures. The Tottenham Mecca was a Teddy Boy hangout; the Blackpool Mecca was one of the main venues for Northern Soul and the Hammersmith Palais has hosted several Bhangra events.

The American  author was baffled by British ideologies about the mainstream, especially as the clubbers who disparaged the mainstream admitted never visiting these clubs. Their knowledge of the mainstream crowd was mainly second-hand from the grapevine or media sources. The presume that this crowd see Top of the Pops as trend setting, as well as the late night programme The Hitman and Her which was shot on location at Mecca venues. Acid Teds and Techno Tracys would be denigrated as Sun readers.

The concept of the mainstream grows out of the media and lived culture. The consensus in North America is that the mainstream is a cluster of subcultures (cf. Crane 1986; Grossberg 1987; Straw 1991). The size and ethnic diversity as well as the proliferation of local, regional and niche media in the USA weaken the myth of the mainstream. Due to the predominantly white population and London as the centre for mass media in the UK, the mainstream is a more powerful idea.

Crowds are the building blocks of club cultures and unlike the “mass” they are local and splintered. Any analysis of youth culture needs to take into account the social groups to which they belong, and studies often loose sight of the social existence of youth cultures, focussing mainly on their clothes and consumer habits. The function of a disparaged “other” adds a sense of shared identity and community and this feeling of belonging can override social differences. The clubbers experience is not of conformity, but of spontaneous affinity, where the good clubs are full of familiar like-minded strangers. They describe the social character of the of their clubs as “mixed” and heterogeneous, unlike “other” crowds which are assumed as homogeneous. Most clubs have observable “master statuses”, so different clubs contextualise social differences in different ways, eg. sexual identity, racial or occupational identity unify the crowd. Although the New Romantic, “gender bending” clubs were sexually mixed, the axis along which crowds are mostly segregated is sexuality.

After sexuality, music is an important factor determining who congregated where. The genres of music is specified on flyers as is naming the DJs who is associated with certain types of music played. George Lewis explains, “we pretty much listen to, and enjoy, the same music that is listened to by other people we like or with whom we identify” (Lewis, 1992: 137). Aesthetic appreciation is passionate and aesthetic intolerance is violent because aural experiences take a firmer root that visual ones.

Door policies also regulate the crowd which usually involve age, gender and sexuality. For example mixed gender groups have a better chance of admission that an all male group. Discrimination against youth of African or Asian descent is not openly acknowledged and ratios of white and black patrons are carefully managed, usually by black bouncers using clothes as the alibi. A “no trainers” policy would exclude Nike wearing black youth. Door people put the finishing touches to the composition of the crowd and are key readers and makers of the “meaning of style”.

Clothing is a potent indicator of social aspiration and position, “the code language of status” (Wolfe, 1974: 23). “White collar” and “blue collar” are euphemisms for class, referring to handbags and white stilettos are euphemisms for a social group that lacks subcultural capital.


References to the mainstream sometimes signals the universalisation of the embodied social structure of a group. The binary thinking is linked with a series of value judgements, political associations and journalistic cliches.

Us v Them

Alternative – mainstream

Hip/cool – straight/square/naff

Independent – commercial

Authentic – false/phoney

Rebellious/radical – conformist/conservative

Specialist genre – pop

Insider knowledge – easily accessible information

Minority – majority

Heterogeneous – homogeneous

Youth – family

Classless – classed

Masculine culture – feminine culture

Popular ideologies about dance crowds are riddled with implies statuses and subcultural capitals. The clubber/raver ideologies offer alternatives rather than subvert the dominant culture as had previous subcultures. The mainstream is a powerful way to put youths in the big picture, imagine their social world, assert their cultural worth, claim their subcultural capital.

“A Handbag!”

I was contemplating my move to Fine Art and what sort of work that I can now produce, now that I am free from the constraints of glass. I have always been excited by the prospect of expanding my creative practice towards a multi-disciplinary approach. The first thing that occurred to me was the enduring image of girls dancing around handbags; the cliche of girls wearing white stilettos dancing to chart-pop at a mainstream “Mecca” nightclub. Although my research is focussed on subcultures and alternatives to mainstream culture, I felt it would be interesting to present the unhip “other”.

I mentioned this line of enquiry to Kim Charnley who suggested reading Sarah Thornton’s Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital, particularly chapter 3 Exploring the Meaning of the Mainstream (or why Sharon and Tracy Dance around their Handbags). Ravers would repeat these cliches, usually drawn from the audience of Top of the Pops or The Hitman and Her. There is still a debate as to whether girls did actually dance around their handbags, but what is apparent is the tension between subcultures and the mainstream, particularly the binary “Us v Them”, the hip and the naff, and the authentic masculine and the perceived frivolous feminine culture.

IMG_20180723_122450 IMG_20180723_122501









So my plan is to build a totem of handbags, or if possible a “henge”. The problem is sourcing large quantities of  handbags. alternatively I could construct each bag out of cardboard or sheet plastic. If it proves difficult to source the quantities of bags then I could place each bag on a plinth, it would be more feasible to create a henge with a few bags on plinths.

Notes 2 Theory 1 – Resistance Through Rituals

The following notes outline the theory behind this paper. It explores the relationships between dominant and subordinate cultures, parent cultures and subcultures as well as the post-war socio-political climate which has enabled the development of a separate youth culture and market.


Edited by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson


Theory 1 – Subcultures, Cultures and Class

The social and political meaning of Youth cultures are not easy to assess. Signified as a social problem by moral guardians, yet plays an important role to help understand and interpret that period. Youth as “a powerful but concealed metaphor for social change” (Smith et. al., 1975), a society which has “changed in ways calculated to upset the official political framework, but in ways not calculable in traditional political terms” (Smith et. al., 1975).

Is youth culture purely a construction of the media, a superficial phonomenon? Would need to find the correct relation between “organic” (permanent) and “conjunctural” (occasional/immediate/accidental).

  1. Some Definitions

Culture – The level which social groups develop distinct patterns of life. The group or class is the distinctive “way of life”. Their meanings and values is their “map of meaning” which is to make this understandable to its members, who in turn become a “social individual” who lives and functions within a culture. Also serves to modify and constrain how groups within a culture live their social existence.

Groups/Classes – Exist within the same society and share each other’s culture to some extent but cultures are differently ranked. Those that have the monopoly of power in society, the hegemony determines the extent and direction of an epoch. Groups and classes find ways of expressing their culture, their subordinate position and experiences. The dominant culture represents itself as “the culture”.

Subcultures – Subsets within larger cultural networks, AKA the “parent” culture, will share some things in common with that parent culture. Subcultures most exhibit a distinctive identity from their parent culture – activities, values and spaces, but as subsets there must be something that binds them with the parent culture. For example the Kray twins belonged to the criminal subculture yet belonged to the “normal’ life of East End working class culture. The “differentiating axis” of the criminal subculture from their “articulating axis” which binds them to their class.

Some subcultures are loosely defined stands or “milieux” within the parent culture, while others develop a clear identity and structure, These tightly defined groups which are also distinguished by age are referred as “Youth Subcultures”. Some of these subcultures only appear at particular times, become visible, are identified and labelled, then they fade or become so widely diffused that they lose their distinctive identity.

Subcultures continue to exist within the inclusive culture of their class from which they spring. They may project a different cultural response but membership cannot protect them from the experiences and problems that shape their class. Especially the relationship of the dominant culture and their subordinate position as a subculture within their parent culture.

“Youth Culture” is how the phenomenon of youth in the post-war period has been most common. That age and generation mattered most or that youth was classless or had become a class itself. So youth culture was exclusively identified with its styles, music and leisure pursuits. The gowing “teenage market” reveal two aspects:

  1. Youth groups fed off and appropriated this market.
  2. This market expropriates and incorporates things produced by the subcultures.

When examining the dialectic between youth and the youth market, bear in mind that individuals may move into or out of one or several subcultures. The relationship between “everyday life” and “subcultural life” of different sections of youth is an important question. Also the major concern for youth is their biggest occupation, passing the time. The dialectics of doing nothing.

  1. Youth: Metaphor for Social Change

These are the three stages of investigating youth subcultures from their phenomenal aspects to the deeper meanings:

  1. The qualitative novelty of youth culture.
  2. The most visible aspects of social change responsible for its emergence.
  3. The wider debate.

Robert’s account reminds to be cautious to refer to youth culture as a post-war phenomenon. His account describes Edwardian youth and point to a historical continuity that should be taken into account. However evidence suggests that the historical significance of the post-war period should not be ignored.

Firstly, the importance of affluence and consumption where the teenage consumer was the prime beneficiary. “Distinctive teenage spending for distinctive teenage ends in a distinctive teenage world” (Abrahams, 1959:10).

Secondly, the arrival of mass communication which influenced youth culture in two ways:

  1. The arrival of the means of imitation and manipulation.
  2. Youth culture was seen to represent the worst effects of this ‘mass culture” and its negative influence.

The third point was that the post-war period reflected the disrupted influence of the war. Breaks in family life and constant violence was held responsible for the “new” juvenile delinquency of the mid 1950s. However the dropping of atomic bombs and the possibility of life without a future instigated the “generation gap’ (Nuttall, 1970)

The fourth set of changes relates to education. The 1949 Education Act promoted “Secondary Education for All” and equally the meritocratic ideology of social mobility through access to higher education. Young people spending more time within age-specific educational institutions creating the pre-conditions for a specific “Adolescent Society”.

Lastly, the arrival of distinctive styles of dress and rock music presented through mass media, targeting the teenage market.

There was a much wider debate about the whole nature of post-war social change. The key changes were; “affluence”, “consensus” and “embourgeoisement”.

  • Affluence – The boom in working class consumer spending. Relatively better off.
  • Consensus – Acceptance by both political parties, ost 1945, of a mixed economy, increased incomes and welfare state. The drawing in of all classes together and the ending of major political and social conflicts.
  • Embourgeoisement – The assimilation of working and middle classes, sharing the same patterns, aspirations and values. Boureoisement of the working class.

Also the new “teenager” committed to style, music, leisure and consumption to a classless youth culture. (Zweig, 1961)

The pre-war social patterns eroded, the teenager was the beneficiary of the new opportunities. This translated into a generational gap as opposed to a social class “pecking order”. Youth was a new class, “the vanguard” of social change.

The relative affluence obscured the fact that the relative positions of the social classes remained. However the affluent miracle was built on the promotion of private consumption at the expense of the public sector.

Yet these reforms led to a socially-minded capitalism for the tories when they returned to power in 1951. The shared consensus led to “the politics of the centre”. Labour believed that a potential upwardly mobile working class voter would now be wary of a radical alternative to conservatism’s “bread and circuses”. However voting consensus could be mistaken. Working class voters may have favoured a left-leaning alternative, especially during and after the economic stagnation of 1956.

Embourgeoisement was the product of these factors. Increased affluence and a minor convergence of the working classes towards the social world of the middle classes. Social mobility.

  1. The Reappearance of Class

The social myth of a disappearing working class was challenged when it was discovered that poverty still existed and is a structural feature of capitalism. Proportionally income values had not changed since 1945. For example abundant white-collar clerical jobs had declined in status, widening structural divisions between “middle-management”, “supervisors” and the clerical “shop-floor”.

Elsewhere increased affluence caused a decrease in union militancy. The rise in expectations from workers as well as resistance to anti-union legislation in the 1970s led to a rise in militancy from unions as expectations remained unfulfilled.

Colin MacInnes (1961) noted that the “two nations” are no longer the rich and poor but teenagers and “all those that have assumed the burdens of adult responsibility” (MacInnes, 1961:56). Yet the teenage market itself was predominantly working class. The middle class teenagers tending to remain in education with less disposable income. (Abrahams, 1959: 13)

Subcultural studies during that time focussed on delinquency and “slum culture”. The frustration of working class youth to attain middle class status. Blocked opportunities. Some studies recognised the class basis of subcultures but these relied on the concept of subcultures as “problem solving” due to poor educational attainment leading to dead end jobs. Creating excitement and self-esteem through their collective identity. This premise ignores the specific development of subcultures and wider youth culture.

  1. Subcultures – An Imaginary Relation

Phil Cohen (1972) explores the ntra-class dynamic between youth and parents, using the East End working class. Their strengths depended on:

  1. The extended kinship network, offering support and stability.
  2. The ecological setting of the neighbourhood which shapes and supports local loyalties and traditions.
  3. The structure of the local economy.

Post-war development and the rationalisation of the family and the local economy led to depopulation of the community. The community split along two opposing types of social mobility. Upwards towards skilled, well paid jobs as the local businesses and economy died out. Moving away towards suburban redevelopments. Whereas the other was stuck in low-paid, unskilled work. Removed from familiar streets and neighbourhoods into high-rise schemes. Family ties fragmented from “extended families” into nuclear “families of marriage”.

Cohen’s (1972) analysis interprets the relationship between the fate of a class and the rise of the subcultures. Yey what remained unexplored is the precise impact of certain forces on the parent culture and how these are experienced differently on its youth. For example, Mods exploring an “upward” mobility whereas Teds and Skinheads explored the “downward” option.

  1. Dominant and Subordinate cultures

Cohen has used class to clarify the concept of subculture and that relationship has been placed in a more dynamic historical framework. The subculture is seen as a specific reaction with its own “meaning structure”, its own “relative autonomy”.

The war and post-war situation hastened the changes already happening before the war. New technological industries represented a new sector whereas the legacy of the industrial revolution was in decline. Areas such as the South East benefited from this which influenced the ideological debate, North v South etc.

The wider economic forces dismantle and restructure the productive basis that working class culture has developed. Changes in housing follow a similar pattern. Post-war rehousing, new estates and new towns break up the traditional housing patterns. What is left behind is the decay of the “urban ghetto”. Some of the ghettos are selectively re-developed, attracting middle class families.

Regarding the ideology of affluence, for most of the working class there was no qualitative leap. It was a construct to lower the gaps. Affluence was an ideology of the dominant hegemony about and for the working class.

Hegemony works through ideology by inserting the subordinate class into its institutions and structures which support its power and social authority. Hegemonies are usually composed of an alliance of ruling classes, a “hegemonic bloc”, which requires a degree of consent of the subordinate class. The ruling classes not only rule but leads through and educative process, regulating life through cultural institutions and the law.

The ideology of affluence dismantled working class resistance through consent. Conflicts re-emerged as society polarised and the dominant classes adopted coercion in favour of consent, marking a crisi for the dominant hegemony.

The subordinate class has developed its own corporate culture,values and mores of life and class conflict is rooted in this culture. Despite the ideology of affluence “institutional solutions” structure how all classes coexist. These preserve the corporate culture of the working class, but also negotiate its relationship with the dominant culture. Counter-hegemonic power consist of a whole repertoire of responses to the power, forming a “negotiated version of the dominant system” (Parkin, 1971:92).

In the working class neighbourhood different strata of working class have won space for their own forms of life. This corporate culture exists in material and social form yet are socially and economically bounded. For example the local school is horizontally bound to its locality and vertically through authority, streaming and selection as its repertoire of control. However it is also possible for the “labour aristocracy” to provide radical leadership to win space through a repertoire of strategies.

  1. The Subcultural response

Subcultures are not simply ideological constructs, they also win space for the young and serve to mark out territory in the localities.Within these particular locations they develop structured relations between members. They explore “focal concerns” and develop a set of social rituals which underpin their collective identity to define them as a group. By adopting and adapting objects, goods and possessions they re-organise them into distinctive “styles”. These become embodied in rituals of relationship, as well as linguistically as argot which classifies the outside world to them in meaningful terms within their group.

However, subcultures have an ideological dimension. Subcultures provide a strategy for negotiating their collective existence within the “class problematic”. The problematic of a subordinate class cannot be resolved but it can be negotiated or resisted. Subculture’s stylised form and its attempts at a solution is pitched at a symbolic level and is fated to fail. There is no subcultural career or no solution for the problems of the subordinate class. They do solve but only in an imaginary way. For example, the Teddy Boy’s expropriation of upper class style of dress covers the gaps between their actual career and life chances, the “all dressed up and nowhere to go” experience of Saturday evening. Also the Mod’s cover the gap between neverending weekend and Monday’s boring resumption of dead-end work.

Working class subcultures are a response to a problematic which youth shares with its parent class culture. Which in turn structure the adolescent’s experience of that problematic through the socialisation of youth into a class identity using two informal agencies, the family and neighbourhood. The characteristics of a class are reproduced, not only through talk in the family, but through daily interaction in the neighbourhood. Through friends and relations that the distant world of work and face-to-face authority are appropriated.

Class also structures the life-chances of young people by determining the distribution of achievement and failure. However, despite the shared class situations youth encounters these within different institutions and experiences from those of their parents. The three main areas: Education, work and leisure. Education has the most impact as the most “paramount reality” as it cannot be easily avoided. The transition to work from school requires learning the formal and informal cultures of work. Whereas leisure and recreation provides a more negotiable space than the workspace. Although these form the corporate culture of a class, it wads the growth of the “teenage consumer” that generated an outlook specific to age, a “generational consciousness”.

  1. Sources of Style

Main Points:

  1. How class and generational elements interact to produce a distinctive group style.
  2. How materials available to the group are constructed and appropriated.

The young are within the “parent” culture and also encounter the dominant culture through institutions formed by that dominant culture, school, work and leisure.

Youth cultures arise at the intersection between the parent and dominant cultures. They borrow and adapt the resistant and negotiative from the parent culture with their encounters with the institutions of mediation and control. They apply and transform to situations and experiences of their own group-life. They develop distinctive outlooks which have been structured by the parent culture, such as group-mindedness, territoriality and conceptions of masculinity.

These “focal concerns” are defined by the parent culture and these are reproduced in subcultures. But some of these concerns are specific which consist of the materials available to build identities (dress/music/argot) and contexts (activities/sites).

Subculture identities imprint a style on the thing with which they are identified. Appropriation of dress or music does not make a style. The activity of stylisation is what produces an organised group-identity. Phil Cohen identified four modes; dress, music, ritual and argot.

Working class subcultures could not have existed without “disposable income” and the growth of a specific youth market. The new youth industries provided the goods but not many authentic styles. The objects were used to construct distinctive styles by subverting and transforming these objects into other meanings and uses.

Commodities and also cultural signs invested by the dominant culture. Their meanings have already been arranged into cultural codes of meaning. So it would be difficult for a working class lad to turn up for work dressed in a bowler hat without, either, aspiring to a bourgeois image or to take the piss out of the image. Expropriation of the meanings of these commodities, or “social hieroglyphs”, subvert their original meaning.

However this re-signification was achieved by many different means. A subculture would borrow from a system of meanings into a different code, also modifying what has been produced or used by a different social group, or exaggerate a meaning to change its meaning. Another way was to combine forms according to a secret language or code where only members possessed the key. Group life enabled the appropriation of these objects, structure their use into a collective self-image.

New meaning emerge from these things bought together to form a new stylistic ensemble, forming a unity within the groups relations defining their public identity. This can lead to negative labelling and stereotyping.

We can broadly distinguish three aspects:

  1. Structures – Set of socially-organised positions in relation to major institutions and structures.
  2. Cultures – Range of socially-organised responses to these social conditions. Though cultures form a set of traditions, they must always be collectively constructed anew for each generation.
  3. Biographies – “Careers” of particular individuals, their identities and life histories are constructed from collective experiences. These only make sense in terms of the subcultures and cultures through which the individual constructs.
  1. The Rise of the Countercultures

Distinctive kinds of “expressive movements” among middle-class youth, for example the Hippie movement and the cultural revolt of the student protest movements. The phenomenon of the counterculture.

Working class subcultures are clearly defined collective structures, “quasi” gangs. Whereas middle class countercultures are less group centred, a diffuse counterculture milieu. These milieux blur the distinctions between necessary and free time and activities by attempting to explore alternative institutions and new patterns for living. They tend to construct enclaves within the dominant culture. Unlike the working class youth who appropriated their existing environment, the middle class countercultures would form alternative societies and underground institutions as their parent class affords the space to drop-out.

Countercultures take a more ideological or political form as they articulate their opposition to dominant values and institutions. These countercultures are a feature of the mid-1960s, in particular the “hippies” which helped a wider sub-cultural milieu to come into existence, shaping style, dress, music etc. Yet this culture fragmented into different strands and fed into the the drop-out and drug subcultures of the time. The two most distinctive strands flow in one-way towards a utopian alternative culture and the other towards political activism.

Like the working class subcultures, the countercultures were also seen as marking a “crisis in authority”. The “delinquency” of one and the “disaffiliation” of the other marks a loss of deference to “betters and elders” and was seen as a crisis among the youth of the dominant class. This dissent from their own dominant parent culture was directed at the institutions which reproduce the dominant cultural relations, attacking the bourgeois ethic by subverting them from the inside through negation.

The middle class has also been affected by the division of labour and the growth of white collar, managerial strata in communications, management and marketing. The expansion and partial democratisation of education was also central to changes in the composition, character and problematic of this class. The crisis in the youth of this class expressed itself as a crisis in the educational and ideological apparatuses.

The culture of the “bourgeois” man; emotional restraints and repressions, commitment to the protestant work ethic, career, competitive achievement and possessive individualism, forms a cultural integument (protection). The post-war reorganisation eroded this culture. The middle class culture was disturbed by the cultural upheaval of this “unfinished revolution”.

The growth of “permissiveness”, the swinging rather than sober life, caused the middle class to take fright and conjure demons. They imagined they were undermined by a conspiracy by progressive intellectuals, soft liberals, pornographers and the counterculture.

Gradually a struggle emerged between the traditional bourgeois (petit-bourgeois) strata and the more progressive modern middle classes. The traditionalists bewailed the “crisis in authority”, whereas the progressives boosted, incorporated and exploited it commercially. The revolt of the middle class youth and its trajectory owes much to its ambivalent starting position between the two “moral worlds” of the system.

The countercultures performed an important task on behalf of the system by pioneering  and experimenting with new social forms which ultimately gave it greater flexibility. Despite the efforts to create an alternative press it did not bring the system to its knees, instead the mainstream became more permissive. The mystical Utopianism was viewed as unscientific and over-ideological.

The counterculture’s emergence marked a failure of the dominant culture to win over the “brightest and the best”. The cult of “being true to your own feelings” becomes dangerous when society no longer want you to feel them. Between 1968 and 1972 the counterculture fell into “alternative” paths and utopian solutions. Others adopted a harder approach of political protest and community activism, converging with working class politics. It has fragmented but not disappeared.

Alternative lifestyles and values with radical politics is a continuing feature. However, the working classes recognise that the this “cultural revolution” is only a thinly disguised middle class elitism. Individual act of self-liberation is economically impermissible.

Counterculture inhabit a dominant culture, albeit negatively, are strategically placed and represent a rupture inside the dominant culture.

  1. The Social reaction to Youth

In 1950s “youth” became a metaphor for social change. A vanguard party of a classless consumer society to come. Social change, although beneficial, was seen to erode the traditional institutions of that society. The boundaries of society were being redefined marking the inception of “troubled times” for the status quo, giving rise to the displacement of social anxiety onto scapegoat groups. This is the origin of “moral panic” by identifying a “responsible enemy”. The most visible of these youth groups were involved in dramatic events which triggered off moral panics, signifying a crisis of authority with youth playing the symptom and scapegoat.

Reactions to these groups took a variety of forms. Modifications to youth services, prolonged debates about the decline in influence of the family and clampdown on truancy and indiscipline in schools. Added to this was a new set of moral panics around middle class youth and permissiveness and was interpreted as undermining social and moral stability, the active agents of social breakdown. The “politicisation” of the counterculture through protests was seen as the “subversive minority”. A succession of trials and legal actions as well as legal controls against youth’s political wing and the widespread use of conspiracy charges, extended the law to industrial relations, strikes and picketing. The birth of the “Law ‘N’ Order” society is cracking down on youth and the permissive society, the dominant culture seeks to find folk devils in youth which that society has fail to win their hearts, minds and consent.

Notes1 – Resistance Through Rituals

I have now migrated from MA Glass to MA Fine Art. It is now my intention to focus on the research that I was undertaking for the first module. I am researching dance subcultures and I felt it was necessary to read the influential, despite subsequent criticism, paper “Resistance Through Rituals” from the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at Birmingham University. The following notes I have taken outline their approach.

Edited by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson


Paper published in 1976 – The Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham. Examines the of “Youth Culture” relation to class culture.

The format and intention of this paper:

  1. To indicate the range
  2. To provide empirical substantiation
  3. To develop a theoretical point, issue or argument which connects the main themes outlined in the ‘overview’

Howard Becker’s Outsiders used as a starting point which signalled a break from mainstream sociology using an intersectional (labelling) perspective. It viewed action as process rather than event and asserted that deviance was a social construct, the power to label others. However it was not comprehensive enough as as it did not mention that deviance had other origins besides public labelling.
This paper examined social action and social reaction with its involvement in the mugging project. This empirical direct engagement sprung from concerns about the severe judicial reaction to the “Hansworth Case”. Regressing to a transactionalist perspective was to be avoided using more mediated questions regarding shifts of class and power and the relation to these activities.


Module 101 Critical Evaluation


At the the beginning of the course I expressed my interest in architectural glass on the basis that I had not really explored it fully as an undergraduate and felt that this was unfinished business. I also mentioned my interest in public-led art. So for my initial question I wondered if glass can be understood as a suitable material for public-engaged art..

I decided to use a live competition brief as a basis for this module. The Stevens Glass Prize is an annual architectural glass competition from The Worshipful Company of Glaziers & Painters of Glass. This year’s brief is to design and, if successful, fabricate two windows that will be situated within a dance studio at Eastbourne College. I looked at the works of architectural glass artists and I also researched contemporary dance as the space would be used primarily for this aspect of dance. This research led me to contemplate how my current research around dance interplays with the technical constraints and potential of architectural glass.

During my research into dance I looked extensively into using Labanotation which is a system of recording and analysing movement and gestures. I was also drawn to the the subcultural aspects of dance and that form of public engagement.

Creative Practitioners

As a point of departure I felt it was necessary for me to identify other creative practitioners whose work I admire which is relevant to mine and examine their work.

Brian Clarke’s glass practice runs in parallel with his canvas paintings which in turn also inform his glass work. Mark Harrison’s (1994) essay noted that the paradox of glass art is that it is inextricably linked to architecture so therefore it is ignored in the art world who view architecture as commodity capitalism. Clarke combines both roles as painter and glass artist, without compromise. There is a symbiotic relationship with both disciplines running in parallel. Before the renaissance, art wasn’t anything other than applied art, yet critics seem to have a problem with the “craft” element of stained glass. Maybe the ecclesiastical links deter serious appraisal (Harrison, 1994, p. 6-7).

Brian Clarke

Fig. 1: Brian Clarke. Roof lights for Norte Shopping Centre, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 1996.
















Reading Harrison’s essay led me to the possibility of combining my creative practice as an attempt to unite the design discipline of architectural glass and my interest in conceptual contemporary arts practices. However tensions have become apparent between client-led design and how I want to use glass within a socially-engaged practice. Architectural glass is usually associated with commercial, commemorative or ecclesiastic public art. Also the research that I have undertaken, particularly in dance as well as my interest in subcultures, have highlighted my reservations regarding a singular architectural glass making practice. I revised the research question and asked if I can successfully diverge this research and so that the architectural glass practice could run parallel with a multi disciplinary contemporary arts practice.

Nick Crowe’s 2006 “Operation Telic” comprised a series of twelve hand engraved panels of 2mm float glass. The panels was presented in a darkened room and each was underlit with simple LED lights. This series is based on official photographs found on the MOD website. The original images presented show British forces “winning hearts and minds” in Iraq in 2003. Godehard Janzing (2007) noted that these original images are staged with the photographer at eye level. This visual strategy forces us to participate and “conceals a complex game with exchanged and inverted standpoints” (Janzing, 2007, pp. 17-18). Crowe has re-staged the digital imagery into something tangible, the underlighting highlights the green glow of the night-viewing device of a weapon (Janzing, 2007, pp, 21-22).


Operation Telic - Nick Crowe copy

Fig. 2: Nick Crowe. Operation Telic, 2005-2006.


















Dance Research

I also read a collection of essays about contemporary dance as this studio space will be used for this particular dance genre. Although dance is corporeal and performative, other aspects can also be investigated, for example music, rhythm and dance notation. However, I felt it was appropriate to also think about the social experience of dancing and its wider contexts.

Henri Lefebvre’s essay explored the nature of gestures or dressage. Lefebvre (1992) suggests that gestures are not innate and “these manners are acquired, are learned” (Lefebvre, 1992, p. 151). Something passes as natural when it conforms without effort to accepted models. To enter into a society or group is to accept its values, bend to its ways. Dressage is based on repetition to break-in people to perform a certain act (Lefebvre, 1992, pp. 151-152). Dance performances are the result of repetitive practices. Each individual dancer has to instinctively perform their gestures and also be aware of their position within the performance space. Whereas dance within the counter-public sphere may at first appear spontaneous, however subcultures tend to define what are accepted modes of dance expression.

Gesture is a common feature of the performance of rap music and breakdancing is a creative dance alternative to gang violence. Encoded gestural messages comment on other dancer’s perceived lack of skill. These “Battles” were conducted to usually settle disputes and allows a discursive basis of dance of the signifying tradition (joshing, banter) prevalent in African-American popular culture (Osumare, 2012, pp. 165-166).

The sub-cultural dimension of dance, which is performed mainly in the public domain, is beginning to inspire me to research this aspect from a sociological point of view. Visual artists have used the subject of dance sub-cultures as a source for their creative practice. For example Mark Lecky’s short film “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” presents a surreal timeline of British nightlife culture. Also Jeremy Deller collaborated with the Williams Fairey Brass Band fusing Acid House music with the traditional sound of a colliery brass band. “Acid Brass” (1997) is a collaboration between these music-based communities.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 16.16.06

Fig. 3: Jeremy Deller. History of the World, 1996.















I have been familiarising myself with Labanotation which is the accepted standardised form of notation used by choreographers. This system is not particularly intuitive and I have been investigating its possible use to record and present informal dance moves. I have subsumed subcultural references to my notation with the intention of presenting dance from the public domain. I am attracted to the potential of presenting publicly an intriguing interactive puzzle which engages and frustrates in equal measure.

Craft Research

I came across an interesting section regarding problems with CAD design. Before the advent of digital design, the tactile experience of creating artist’s impressions gives the designer a greater understanding of how the finished design will appear. Rendering each brick or window would increase familiarity especially in combination with regular site visits. Subsequent redrafts increase that familiarity. Using CAD creates a disconnection between the simulation created digitally and the tactile reality of drawing (Sennett, 2009). This observation I found particularly relevant. I visited the site and the space was still being built. Despite talking to the client as well as taking photographs, it was a struggle to clearly visualise the site as a finished space. In hindsight I should have visited at a later arranged date. For a client-led commissions I would have to liaise with the client and visit the site more than once. I am starting to question how I view myself as a practitioner. Am I a designer or am I an artist?

Evaluation of Body of Work

After my initial research I began to work on ideas through sketching and used labanotation as the basis. I was drawn to this notation as it is not immediately understood. This presents an enigmatic puzzle as the symbols have a runic and hieroglyphic quality. I also devised a decryption device to aid the viewer.

Scan 29


























Fig. 4: Adele Retter. Decryption device pictogram, 2017-2018.




I researched the notation so that I could create a combination of gestures that would allude to subcultural references. Although notation can be open to interpretation, I nevertheless wanted to produce an accurate representation of these gestures. This is to ensure that when the riddle is solved, there is some kind of reward. I felt that it should at least make sense.

The gestures that I recorded were quite banal. One of the windows would refer to the derisory “big fish, little fish, cardboard box” description of ravers throwing shapes and the other will feature the semaphore arm gestures of “YMCA” from The Village People’s disco hit of the same title. I introduced perspective ito refer to the “Tomb Raider” computer game and Oskar Schlemmer’s geometric architectonic stage as a setting for a strategic abstract game (Birringer, 2013).

Scan 8












Fig. 5: Adele Retter: Preliminary sketches for “Big Fish…” and “YMCA”, 2017-2018.




However, after a period of time-consuming engagement with the tactile drawing process, I realised that this would be unsuitable for a dance studio at a boarding school. I was forced to acknowledge the perceived expectations of the client and this has forced me to compromise my original design. The subsequent design is purely a graphic assemblage of the symbols, although a neat clean solution is nonetheless a creative concession. I have made a design decision to present a more suitable outcome, yet the time invested with familiarising myself with the notation is a disappointing outcome. This final design is devoid of any context which frustrates me as an artist.


left_window_maquette right_window_maquette









Fig. 6: Adele Retter. Cartoons of final designs, 2017-2018.




A lot of time was spent learning the system for presenting something deliberately facile and I also feel that working on two briefs has meant that I have been unable to dedicate fully to either. This failure of time management has created problems for me. This also hampered my research as I struggled to establish a coherent theoretical framework.

I now feel compelled to re-establish my direction on this course. It has become clear to me that the “unfinished business” of my architectural glass exploration probably should have remained unfinished as I now feel that this should have been confirmed prior to this module. Additionally there are many technical considerations of this discipline as well as the expected creative compromises. Glass is beautiful and this is what attracted me to it, yet my familiarity and persistence with this material has meant that usually only see glass as the final outcome.


Plans for Module 201

Originally I was planning to liaise with architectural glass fabricators Proto Studios with a view to observing their work practices and potentially making the finished windows. However, the research question has now evolved to reflect the re-evaluation of my research.

“How will my future research into dance, notation and subcultures be realised within the context of a socially-engaged contemporary arts practice?”.

I have always tried to frame my work conceptually where the idea has as much importance as the final outcome. I believe this approach can be fully realised within a multi-disciplinary contemporary art context. The research that I have undertaken about dance confirms my belief that this is the direction that I will want to take forward.

However I still want to explore glass but within the context of a counter-public sphere. Grant Kestor’s essays “The Sound of Breaking Glass” would be an interesting starting point to examine how subcultures use glass as a canvas for their expressions of identity and to challenge dominant hegemonies. I would also like to attend this year’s Social Making conference. The last conference was very interesting and I feel that now I will have a better understanding of my own intentions regarding my socially-engaged practice.

The research I have undertaken has inspired me to look further into dance in the public domain, particularly the subcultural aspects. The performative nature of dance and the dancer’s agency can be investigated. Which would lead me to ask for example is it competitive one-upmanship? Is it about the identity of the individual representing a particular subculture? Is being “lost in music” a transcendental state?

I want to present a body of work for the Plymouth Art Weekender. The body of work would be a collection of visual artifacts that I have produced to reflect the research I have done. Or alternatively an installation around the theme of dance, music and subcultures.


Appendix 1 – Bibliography

Harrison, M. (1994). Eloquence from intractability. In: Brian Clarke Architectural Artist . Academy Editions, pp.6-7.

Janzing G. (2007). This is Propaganda. In: Huffman K, ed., Nick Crowe: Commemorative Glass, pp. 17-23. Manchester: Cornerhouse.

Lefebvre, H. (2012). Dressage//1992. In: A. Lepecki, ed., Dance Documents of Contemporary Art , 1st ed. London, Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery, MIT Press, pp.151-152.

Osumare, H. (2012). Global Breakdancing and the Intercultural Body//2002. In: A. Lepecki, ed., Dance Documents of Contemporary Art , 1st ed. London, Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery, MIT Press, pp.165-166.

Sennett, R. (2009). The craftsman . London: Penguin Books.

Birringer, J. (2013). Bauhaus, Constructivism, Performance. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art , pp.39-52.

Appendix 2 – Further Reading

Clarke B. (1994). Drawing on Architecture. In: Brian Clarke Architectural Artist, pp.18-19. Academy Editions,

Powell K. (1994). Architectural Artist. In: Brian Clarke Architectural Artist, pp.12-17. Academy Editions,

Van Imschoot, M. (2012). Rest in Pieces: Scores, Notation, and the Trance in Dance//2005. In: A. Lepecki, ed., Dance – Documents of Contemporary Art , 1st ed. London, Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery, MIT Press, pp.216-217.

Pye D. (1968). The workmanship of risk and the workmanship of certainty. In: The Nature and Art of Workmanship , pp. 20-37, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Finlay A. (2002). Labanotation: The Archie Gemmill Goal. Edinburgh: Morning Star Publications. Kandinsky W. (1947). Point and Line to Plane . New York: The Soloman R. Guggenheim Foundation. Gropius W, ed. (1961). The Theater of the Bauhaus . Middleton: Wesleyan University Press.
Kipling Brown A. (2008). Labanotation for Beginners. Alton: Dance Books Ltd.

Hutchinson Guest A. (2005). Labanotation: The System for Analysing and Recording Movement. New York: Routledge.

Bowlt J. (2014), Russian Avant-Garde Theatre: War, Revolution & Design, pp. 263-294 . London: Nick Hern Books Ltd.

Davies P. ((2007). Glass North East, pp. 56-90 . Sunderland: Art Editions North.

Appendix 2 – List of Images

Fig. 1: Rooflights for Norte Shopping Centre, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 1996. Available From: [Accessed on 27th March 2018, at 15:45].

Fig. 2: Nick Crowe. Operation Telic, 2005-2006. Available from: [Accessed on 27th March 2018, at 16:08]

Fig. 3: Jeremy Deller. History of the World, 1996. Available form : [Accessed on 27th March 2018, at 16:21]

Fig. 4: Adele Retter. Decryption device pictogram, 2017-2018. Available from: [Access on 27th March 2018, at 16:33]

Fig. 5: Adele Retter: Preliminary sketches for “Big Fish…” and “YMCA”, 2017-2018. Available from: [Accessed on 27th March 2018, at 16:38]

Fig. 6: Adele Retter. Cartoons of final designs, 2017-2018. Available from: [Accessed on 27th March 2018, at 16:49]

Technical Journal – Screen-printing Coloured Glass Powder

For this test I have borrowed a textile screen which is a coarser 43T. I’m don’t know what the thread count is per inch but I will only pull the powder through 4 times.

The Optul colours that I am using are:

Chrome Green (FF 0076/0)      Red (FF-BF 1015/0)

Orange (FF-BF 1025/0)            Light Green (FF 0072/0)
































I have decided to use the same firing schedule, 825ºC for 15 minutes. I have also ensured that I am printing on the non-tinned side.

































Again the result are a bit underwhelming. The light green is almost invisible and the red is more of an orange but it is a nice deep orange. The chrome green and the orange fired okay. The high temperature has caused devitrification. The previous firing was cloudy but i presumed it was picking up the bat wash from the kiln shelf.


To conclude, the Optul colours seem too muted for my liking. I was hoping for more vibrant colours. Also I was expecting a greater range of coloured powders as transparent enamels are only available in blues, greens, yellows and pinky violets.

I am considering laminating strips of fusing glass onto the back of the windows, or creating each symbol with fusing glass and laminating each symbol to the windows. This would mean that the edges of these constructed symbols would be visible through the sandblasted window.

However I was happy with the results of the enamels test, but I wanted more variety of colours. Alternatively I could just use a nice bright yellow as this could contrast with the cool sandblasted background.

































I covered the back of a sandblasted version with resist, then removed the resist from behind non-sandblasted area with a scalpel. Then I applied mixed enamel into the cut out areas.


I received an email answering my query regarding the silkscreens and the screens used in the printmaking workshop use imperial threads per inch. So the 120 screen is within the accepted threshold.