The new Gallery at DMU will be presenting Subs (2017), a new film commission from Jamie Shovlin, from 15th September.

Subs follows a season in the life of youth Sunday League football club, Anstey Swifts. Titled in relation to the subscription fee paid by each child to play, Subs fuses elements of the essay film, social history and self-portrait to create a multi-dimensional account of the Swifts’ expanded landscape. The film will be displayed at The Gallery in a specially designed widescreen installation.

The film installation forms the centrepiece of  the exhibition at The Gallery and is flanked by two trophies from Shovlin’s archives, presented here as sanctified historical objects. They are infused with value through their place within familial and community histories. Their personal significance far outweighs their aesthetic presence and they act as a physical counterpart to the themes within the film.

Subs continues Shovlin’s exploration of the tension between fact and fiction in the narratives and methods used to define identities and share stories. Developing the reflections on childhood and adolescence in previous works such as Naomi V. Jelish (2001-4) and Lustfaust: A Folk Anthology 1976-81 (2003-12), the film follows the club’s teams throughout the 2016/7 season. Founded in 1978, the Swifts currently have over 180 players who play in a number of teams with ages ranging between four and eighteen. The club is run by a number of unpaid volunteers with the parents of players often taking the roles of team managers.

Shot and edited by Shovlin, Subs is his most personal work to date. Growing up in Anstey, the village home of the Swifts, and playing for the team as a child, his mother was club secretary for 27 years and still resides in the village. Historically, a notable working class centre for the hosiery and footwear industries, Anstey has become an increasingly desirable suburban feeder village for workers in Leicester. Its rapid social ascent has mirrored the increased professionalisation in youth football, giving rise to a larger population engaged in the activities and ambitions of the village’s football club.

Made in collaboration with De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture, Subs relates the social value and historical precedents of community activity in the construction of individual, local and national identities. Against the backdrop of the nationwide political upheaval of 2016, the film questions ideas of community through the relationships between parents and players, aspirations and reality and past and present within the club. Subs outlines the psychological and emotional engagement from the Swifts’ players and parents and considers their – and Shovlin’s own – relationship to self, place and history.

Jamie Shovlin lives and works in London. He was born in Leicester in 1978. He first exhibited in New Contemporaries 2003 with Naomi V. Jelish, a project that in 2004 became his first solo show at Riflemaker in London. In 2006, he was nominated for the Beck’s Futures art prize and had his first museum solo show at Tate Britain. Further solo shows with Newcastle’s Hatton Gallery and Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery followed  in 2008 and  his first international  solo exhibition took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Romein 2010. More recently he has exhibited his work within curated displays from the collections of Tullie House, Carlisle and Southampton City Art Gallery. In 2013, Shovlin released his debut feature film Rough Cut.

‘Subs’ is available to view at The Gallery at De Montfort University from 15th September to 25th November.

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