Design Paul Fillingham, photograph Dom Henry
The Alan Sillitoe Committee was one of fifty three organisations selected to produce content for The Space, a new multimedia platform funded by Arts Council England in collaboration with the BBC. We are the only litracha organisation outside of London and proudly rub shoulders with the likes of the London Review of Books and Faber and Faber. Also commissioned from the East Midlands are UK Young Artists and Vanilla Galleries, so let’s get out the bunting and celebrate the world that exists beyond the M25.
Our project will explore the literary landscape of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), a novel about a cunning Raleigh factory worker called Arthur Seaton whose reward for a week’s hard graft at the lathe is to neck a few pints at the weekend and mess about with married women. We hope to broaden the reach of literature by making this seminal novel accessible to newer audiences and in a variety of formats. It’s why we’re so chuffed to have Derrick Buttress as our first commissioned writer. Who would have thought a man having his first short story collection published at eighty would then become a pioneer for what promises to be the future of digital technology and broadcasting.
The Space signifies the end of the one-size-fits-all model for broadcasting. Now it’s all about You. It can be accessed via mobiles, ipads, and the internet. Even through the red button on that whacking great TV on your wall. Maybe even a light switch, give it time. Our content is just as versatile, delivered through videos, audio, photography, illustrations, music and text as well as the obligatory natter through social media. This is how we do it...
Mobile Phone App
This year sees the 125th anniversary of Raleigh so we are creating a QR-coded cycle trail for smartphone devices that explores key locations and scenes from the novel. Each location is being illustrated by students at NCN as part of their Foundation in Design coursework. Users will be able to navigate the App either from the perspective of two Swaddies chasing Arthur Seaton around town or by a modern day Arthur Seaton in 2012. We will be challenging local cycling groups to find the quickest and best routes around our trail which we hope will one day turn into a yearly competition. The App will also provide a smaller walking tour of city-based locations which will create work for local storytellers and generate tourism. We are currently in negotiations with a very supportive Councillor John Collins to get quotes from the book etched into slabs which will draw stonemasonry into our literary web.
Not everyone has got a fancy phone so we will also be producing an authentic, 1950s style Raleigh manual that details the literary trail. We’re calling it a ‘physical book with a digital heart’ as it will literally write itself as the project goes along, dependent upon content generated on The Space, through our social media channels and through the Sillitoetrail.com. We need you to get involved or else it will be a book of blank pages so follow the links at the bottom of the page and help us remind London that even people in Nottingham write books.
We will take you on a virtual tour around Sillitoe’s Nottingham by focussing on five featured locations from the trail. Each location will have a specific theme and quote from the novel which will be addressed by Nottingham-based writers, including our very own Mr. Notts, Al Needham. These are: Old Market Square (‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’) The White Horse (The death of the British pub and community) Raleigh (What’s the modern day lathe?) Trent (Solitude: Is it possible in the digital age?) Goose Fair (Is Reality TV the modern freak show?)
Design by Paul Fillingham of Think Amigo. Paul is co-running the project with James Walker
Arthur Seaton will be joining us on our journey, popping up at the end of each featured location to offer his own interpretations of the writers’ work, ensuring nobody takes themselves too seriously. These will be audio files, read by a variety of people. We’re hoping, in a similar spirit to Todd Haynes Bob Dylan movie I’m Not There (2007), to capture the essence of our favourite drinking outlaw by asking a variety of people to take on the Seaton persona.
Tom Keeling will kick-off proceedings with a softer, slightly camper interpretation having recently played Seaton in the musical adaption of the novel. But we’re also interested in what a female Arthur Seaton might sound like as the book could quite literally have been written from a female perspective. Female factory workers of the period would have felt a greater sense of injustice than our iconic anti-hero given that a shift down at Raleigh was replaced by a shift at home sorting out the family. We suspect that the limited time they would’ve had to ‘have a good time’ would create far more outlandish behaviour than falling to the bottom of some stairs.
The Space is just one of many projects and events that the committee is involved in as we try to raise enough money to have a statue of Alan Sillitoe built in the city. You can support us by donating at www.sillitoe.com or better still, coming along to one of these events we’ve got lined up over the next couple of months.
June 13 Al Needham will be examining the death of the British pub with a themed quiz at the Golden Fleece. Don’t worry. His Nana will still be there fiddling on her organ. The BBC will be swinging by with a camera crew so best not turn up with your knock-off. 9pm
June 30 Saturday Night at Nottingham Contemporary 7pm showing of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (£6) followed by free music in the café from 9pm with The Sleaford Mods, The Smears + DJ Mista Shotta.
July 1 Sunday Morning at Nottingham Contemporary. Brunch with some free jazz. 11am – 3pm
Check us out on The Space website
Help contribute to our book by visiting our Sillitoe trail website
Like us and join in the debate at Facebook.com/sillitoetrail
Have a natter with us on Twitter