Skill, a film by Dryden Goodwin is in 12 parts, focusing on Goodwin’s encounters with twelve people from East Durham in the North East of England. Each person has a hands-on specialist skill, ranging from tattooing, to wood-turning, to pigeon fancying. Skill encapsulates the drawings Goodwin made observing each person at their endeavours with the conversations that took place. The film and the drawings are a celebration of dexterity, passion and commitment, capturing a shared deftness of hand and mind as each person transforms the materials they work with.

Underpinning Skill is a fascination with hand eye co-ordination, the ability through dedicated and focused ‘hands on’ labour, to craft and coax things into being.
The project focused on a select range of skilled activities, inferring the richness of the past, present and possible futures, unique to the place and people of East Durham, unearthing hidden bits of ‘magic’ that people don’t usually see.

A celebration of these people and their particular skills, the film was shown in cinema-style screenings at community venues across East Durham, and also outdoors, on big screens at Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Peterlee and Byron Place, Seaham.

Feedback from the participants:

Margaret (dressmaker): ‘It was brilliant. I really enjoyed the experience- I can talk a glass eye to sleep- it went very well to be honest! I thought they were both very good. He’s very clever, isn’t he? Like boom, boom, boom and then done. I’m looking forward to the outcome. What I saw him do- I thought, oh that’s clever, when he first started, but he wasn’t doing what I was expecting. He was putting a little dot on the paper and I thought- that’s fascinating. We have a perception of them and they have one of us- but he was very easy to talk to- I didn’t feel awkward or anything. I was just totally relaxed- thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I thought it was wonderful to do something like this for the area. There are a lot of problems round here and  sometimes people have to do something that’s on the lighter side. [costume making] is a dying art- the younger generations aren’t really aware of it and it’s nice to show them what it’s about.’

John Surtees (gardener): ‘He’s cool as owt! He was sound as a pound, he was a canny bloke and we had a good chinwag. I was expecting a wizened up old man to be honest but he was really down to earth, the kind of bloke you’d like to go for a pint with.’

George (lifeboat): ‘I quite enjoyed it, he was good crack. I enjoyed talking to him- it was interesting and I’ve never been sketched before by a lad.’

Alan (horse husbandry): ‘I really enjoyed talking with Dryden about me, my job and where I live in East Durham.  Edenwell Equestrian Centre has given me the chance to work with horses which I’ve always wanted to do.  We had a good chat about everyday kinds of things.’

The Artist

Dryden Goodwin has exhibited widely nationally and internationally and has also undertaken a number of acclaimed public art commissions.

Dryden Goodwin’s work includes drawing, often in combination with photography and video, he also creates etchings, screen-based installations, works in public space, works on-line and soundtracks.
Goodwin has also exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and the Venice Biennale. His work is in the collections of, amongst others, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Tate Collection and The National Portrait Gallery, London.

Further information click here

Commissioned by East Durham Creates and produced by Forma Arts. Exhibited at MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Contemporary Art

Phase 2 Partner logo strip