Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Round About Town: a new book by Kevin Boniface

By Kevin Boniface

Round About Town was almost eight years in the writing: the accumulation of noteworthy observations made in the course of delivering the mail in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield between August 2010 and February 2018.
Further down the road I got talking to the woman with the low maintenance hairstyle and the perhaps inadvisable vest top with no bra. She was telling me about the house she used to live in when she was younger. “Where was that?” I asked. She waved an enormous arm in the vague direction of half of Huddersfield and said, “You know, number 23 do-dah”.
I began making notes about my environment in the late 90s when I joined the Royal Mail. Walking the same streets at the same time everyday gave me a new perspective; things were changing and I didn’t want to miss them: hats, bathrobes, children’s names, fashions in dog ownership, garden ornamentation and the accrual of patina thereon, the comings and goings of migratory birds, the taxonomy and distribution of litter, the degradation of animal faeces, Cars - Mr Briggs alone changed his car three times in one 12 month period during 2003/04...
Mr Briggs pulls up to tell me he’s off to Oldham today. He pauses, then says “Actually, I tell a lie, I’m off to the office, then to Meltham and then to Oldham. I’m working on the precinct there, it’s a right bastard to park”. That’s all he says, then he gets back into his Suzuki Carry and drives away.

I wanted to make sense of all of this.

I was determined.
There are unencumbered and determined grey-haired men in navy blue fleeces pounding the streets. Teeth gritted, they march up hills, arms outstretched for extra balance along uneven nascent desire lines—past the stalled mums with their hoods up against the drizzle, pushchairs and retrievers in one hand, they reach out for their straggling toddlers with the other.
In an attempt to eradicate any prejudices, I employed various techniques. I made lists of observations at preordained times of the day, I avoided adjectives and adverbs, I even attempted meditating on the day’s events in an attempt to clear out the crap and get to the REAL: the REAL tangerine in the gutter on the Tuesday after the storm. I don’t know if I was doing it right or whether I was becoming so open-minded my brains had fallen out but I carried on, honing and tweaking. I made films at random, took photographs, made drawings.

My writing style evolved.

I was researching something or other.
Results of an hour spent researching what to wear in the countryside at this time of year: knitted beige lurex cardigan - no sleeves, tied at waist; brown hoodie; green overalls; green anorak with hood - North Face; black and navy woollen jumper; hi-vis coat - green/muddy; pink polo-neck jumper with black gilet; navy blue overall/shop coat; fleece jackets - various and sundry; blue cagoule - torn; green zip-up raglan cardigan; light blue cotton shirt; t-shirts - various and sundry.

In 2010, a mate of mine, the artist Jared Szpakowski had started a blog ‘to keep his eye in’. He’d resolved to post a picture every day for a year. This seemed to me the perfect medium for what I was doing; how better to document the cumulative effect of everything on everything than by building up an accumulation of blog posts?
Next door, a three-foot-high pile of rubbish has accumulated in the garden and there are now fourteen sycamore saplings growing from between the joints in the cracked concrete paving flags. On the drive, the old Vauxhall Vectra has six nodding bulldogs wearing cross of St George T-shirts arranged across its parcel shelf.
Recently, I’ve been working with Uniformbooks to publish Round About Town, a beautiful print version of the blog, it came out in March and I’m very proud of it.

Round About Town
Kevin Boniface
ISBN 978 1 910010 18 1
128pp, 234 x 142
paperback with flaps
2018, £12.00

Further details and to order direct: Uniform Books

Kevin Boniface is an artist based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After graduating in art and geography in 1993, he joined the Royal Mail as a postman which has influenced his artwork ever since. Over many years, he has also produced zines, exhibitions, artists’ books, short films, audio recordings and live performances. His previous publications include Where Are You? (2005) and Lost in the Post (2008).

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