West Smethwick Park, 1986

This photograph is from the ‘Summer Celebrations’ activities Jubilee ran throughout the school holidays in Sandwell. Eric Klein Veldermann, fresh out of art college, was one of the artists employed as part of the seasonal team. He recalls: “The premise was simple enough – turn up in a double decker bus filled with stuff and creatives on a site somewhere in Sandwell; wait for the kids to turn up and then produce magic and mayhem over a 12 hour day. The simplicity of the approach belied the meticulous planning that took place in the weeks before setting out in the bus. Peter Chaplin and myself made endless lists, developed thematic narratives and gathered equipment. Flag poles, a tent, generators, tissue and glue, oh and lots of gaffa tape. We were charting largely unknown territories. The only handbook available – remember this was pre-Google – was the trail blazing Welfare State handbook by John Fox and others which described the processes together with detailed Tim Hunkin drawings of machines and costumes. Nevertheless we were mostly relying on our instinct and a good deal of luck to see us through each day. Rain, bus wheels struggling to get over kerb edges and problems finding the venues were usually overcome with energy and enthusiasm by the large assembled teams of artists, creatives, musicians, young volunteers – to be honest we weren’t sure what to call ourselves. The end results in my perhaps rose tinted spectacles were marvellous, groundbreaking and magical. Shadow shows at dusk on wasteland, lantern processions through streets and junk orchestras banging out a soundtrack, a barn dance and barbeque. I can honestly say that those days with Jubilee were the foundation on which I based a large part of my professional practice subsequently. They say you have to start on the shop floor – well, this was it!”

Eric Klein Veldermann is today Director of Cantoo Design Company.

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