Dorothy Towers Playlist
I grew up in the 1990s and ’00s watching television. It provided a view of an exciting world beyond my immediate reality. Television series such as ‘Arena’ and ‘The South Bank Show’ profiled successful mavericks, artists, musicians, and writers who often dared to live outside their time’s pervading norms. Later, YouTube would give us access to the archives of our heroes: John Cooper Clarke, Ramones, Otis Redding, Diana Ross, Patti Smith, etc.
This series celebrates my favourite television documentaries from the 1980s and ’90s and their fascinating subjects – Francis Bacon, William S Burroughs, Quentin Crisp, Stuart Hall and Ajamu X – from whom I absorbed so much knowledge. In addition, it contains my film Dorothy Towers (2022) – a trip around two Birmingham tower blocks – which owes all these films something, whether in the atmosphere, approach, or both.
I’m also delighted to share Jeffrey Hinton’s Scratch Bowery (2015), a celebration of his life with artist Leigh Bowery. Hinton has been an inspirational force in my artistic development, and I’m excited for you to meet him. I hope the programme will provide an opportunity to convene around the stories of extraordinary trailblazers. Enjoy!
– Sean Burns
Owain Harrison’s text for Dorothy Towers, A Cornucopia of Experience, merges the factual history of Dorothy Towers – the colloquial name bestowed on the buildings by local LGBTQ+ communities, owing to the number of queer people living there – with a fictional narrative based on first-hand testimonials. To accompany the text, Harrison put together a music playlist that you can access here.