INTERVIEW: Kid Acne brings Happy Hour to Sheffield

Sheffield-based artist Kid Acne has joined forces with SASS (Sheffield Alcohol Support Service) to create Happy Hour, a new limited edition print depicting a selection of the city’s best-known pubs. Exposed went to find out more.

Can you give us a bit of background as to how you got involved with this project?
There are two things which led me to getting involved with SASS. My dad passed away three years ago, and that was brought on by alcohol abuse. Obviously, as a family unit we were hopeful that he might do a detox or rehabilitation programme, but as time went by it became clear that were was only really going to be one outcome. It became kind of a case of going for damage limitation, just respecting his wishes but knowing it wasn’t going to be a happy ending.

As an artist, I am also asked to donate to charities on a regular basis. There are always plenty of great causes, but I kind of feel like I can’t really do all of them. And big things like what happened  with my dad make you re-evaluate your life a bit. I wanted to find a way of doing something more meaningful than just giving away prints whenever I got an email, so I took it upon myself last year to find a charity which I’d like to align myself with, in the hope of creating a more meaningful relationship which I could nurture, rather than just provide drops in the ocean. This was a more significant project and contribution towards a charitable cause.

He was a creative guy but a troubled soul, like a lot of us are. He was a teacher, a keen photographer, too. My parents divorced when I was quite young, so my relationship with Dad was going to his house at weekends and working on art projects and stuff. He taught me a lot. When I first got into doing graffiti, he’d let me spray-paint in his house; I learnt to screen-print with him when I was 15; he taught me about SLR photography and how to develop negatives. And I just felt that, personally, I wanted to do something positive through a connection to a cause and a charity that I felt I could relate to and empathise with. As an artist, that feels a bit more appealing than just giving work away every so often.

How did you come across SASS and what in particular appealed to you about the work that they do?
With what happened to my dad being the impetus for it all, I looked online for charities which if the situation was a bit different would’ve helped. SASS work with people in similar situations and they’re more of a grassroots charity. People who go can eventually become mentors themselves, which I see as a really good trade-off and a way of sharing experiences. I went to meet the people there, we got on really well and then it was just a case of figuring out what we wanted to do. This is what we came up with.

With the Happy Hour project, there’s a sense of both celebrating pub culture and its communities but also raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol abuse.
From an aesthetical perspective, I’ve always enjoyed drawing traditional pubs. Even with my street art murals, pubs have often been the best locations to do them on. I’ve done all sorts of exhibitions, gigs, etc., in brilliant pubs. A lot of the the places on the Sheffield heritage pubs poster I’d visited with my dad and have happy memories from. I’ve been drawing these pubs for a long time, but now I had the focus of where I could direct that to create compositions. I suppose the title, ‘Happy Hour’, is just a spin on the situation. Because with my dad, obviously it was a sad, drawn-out situation, but there was also a lot of positives I could take from him, and they tend to become clearer as time goes on.

I think with issues like alcohol and substance abuse, it can be difficult for an artist to attach imagery. It’s not saying ‘don’t drink’; I know people who have gone through a similar thing to what we went through with my dad, and it’s not necessarily something to do with pub culture. A lot of people with alcohol problems might drink at home, for example, and maybe if they were in a pub, part of a community, they might be more inclined to respect drinking a bit more because there’s a bit more of a sociable aspect to it.

Naturally, pubs are also tied very closely to people’s sense of community and nostalgia.
Sure. They’re called public houses for a reason: they are like extensions of your houses. I remember, back in the day, Dulo being like my second home – I’d paint murals on the side of it, DJ’ed there, did exhibitions there, had lock-ins there, and made some of my best friends through the local pub.

With plenty to go at, how did you choose which ones to include?
The pubs were largely chosen by the look of them. I’ve done Sheffield cityscapes before, and in doing that I came to realise that old pubs were amongst the most interesting buildings in the city. I made a list of the ones I wanted to draw in different neighbourhoods, and then went on a big walk around the city to get a variation of the types of architecture. With this particular composition, it’s largely places around the city centre and within a one or two-mile radius – S1, S2, S3. If they sell well, which hopefully they will, I’ll get to work on a second series and start branching out in terms of areas.

You can purchase a limited edition Happy Hour print at – there are only a handful remaining, so be quick! All proceeds will be donated to the Alcohol Recovery Community (ARC) at Sheffield Alcohol Support Service (SASS).

Pubs included

1st row: The Washington (S1), Gardener’s Rest (S3), The Three Tuns (S1), Shakespeare’s (S3), The Cremorne (S2).

2nd row: The Red Lion (S1), Rutland Arms (S1), Lord Nelson (S1), The Royal Oak (S4), The Ship Inn (S3).

3rd row: The Fat Cat (S3), Three Cranes Hotel (S1), The White Hart (S3), Norfolk Arms (S1).

Bottom row: Railway Hotel (S2), Barry’s Bar (S2), The Grapes (S1), The Riverside (S3).

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