• Search Icon
  • Toggle Menu
  • Close Menu

The Art

Search for information about all the works of art and craft we have donated to museums

Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks (2021)

Helen Cammock

HD video

Touchstones Rochdale

© Helen Cammock. Photo credit: Film and Video Umbrella.



Film Installation, Moving Image


78 : 38 minutes


Co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Contemporary Art Society (with support from the Mbili Foundation) and The Photographers’ Gallery, in partnership with Touchstones Rochdale, supported by Arts Council England, 2021/22

Ownership history:

Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and the Contemporary Art Society, through its Equal Shares scheme, The Photographers’ Gallery and Touchstones Rochdale, (with support from the Mbili Foundation and Arts Council England, 2019/20; presented to Touchstones Rochdale, 2021/22


Black (presence)
Helen Cammock uses film, performance, and text in her community-based practice. Motivated to link stories across time, Cammock’s pieces are personal too. We hear her voice narrating and singing, and she uses archival footage as well as what she has shot herself, thus allowing for the ability to question subjectivity and authorship.

Her storytelling process begins with the idea that stories and lives can cross time and geographies. This is reflected in her fragmented, non-linear narratives and occasionally showing the process behind filmmaking. Before Cammock went to art school in 2005, she worked as a social worker in Brighton, and skills around trust and patience that she developed there, have carried through in her approach.

In an echo of the equitable, collective ethos of the Cooperative Movement (founded in Rochdale in 1844), Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks brings together members of Rochdale’s present-day community to relay their individual experiences and their different perspectives on what it is to be a stakeholder in an enterprise or entity that is larger than yourself. The collection at Touchstones Rochdale was established in the name of the people, and is used in the film, with objects brought out to live out their history, including a vintage sewing machine being used and a coffee mug from the miners’ strike drunk from.

The people picking out these objects are equally disparate and diverse, encompassing families that have lived in the town for generations as well as members of newer communities; from a local artist to Rochdale’s former mayor, from a retiree gardener encouraging biodiversity to a Ukrainian women's choir. The places that the protagonists take the objects (and Cammock) to reveal strikingly different facets of Rochdale to the one an outsider might have expected: green and wild and open to its future, as well as keenly aware of its industrial history and its radical past.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited.

Read our copyright policy for more information.

You Might Also Like