The post punk era saw many fashionable errors on my part. The days of shaving one side of my head and dyeing my hair orange have long gone, but my dedication for social politics has endured the test of time.
Like many in the arts I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was passionate about exploring, experimenting and challenging, in a time when anything could happen.
During those years I went on a discovery, finding new ways of working, picking up clay, plaster, metal and even video cameras. Video became my passion and eventually grounded my success as an artist showing in places such as the Natural History Museum and the Tate Liverpool.
I was asked by a local community group to be involved in a documentary about a half-way house. A place where people stayed once they came out of mental health wards. Eventually the piece was screened on the BBC and a series of events led to a series of other documentary pieces and culminated with an offer of study from the Royal College of Art.
Thatcher managed to close many of these institutions down, calling for a community care model that never emerged. I find myself reflecting on this now during these post Covid-19 times when fear is simmering under the surface of society and increasingly, we are seeing people find it difficult to cope with life.
It’s time to step up, document, experiment and experience these unprecedented times.
Simon Robertshaw is Dean of the School of Arts and Creative Industries at University of East London.