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The Concert Room: Steels Social Club Residency, Mark Henderson

Portrait from From Steels Social Club Residency © Mark Henderson

From Steels Social Club Residency © Mark Henderson

  • Dates:November 2013
  • Status:Archived

A supported residency at Steels Social Club in Sunderland as part of The Social: Encountering Photography Festival.

Working Men’s Clubs were once an integral social and cultural institution at the heart of working class communities throughout the UK and in many the Concert Room would be at the fulcrum of the social interaction. When Mark Henderson began to photograph Concert Rooms in clubs in the north east of England, he was initially drawn to their unique aesthetic but soon found an alternative narrative based on the birthdays parties, engagements, weddings, christenings and wakes, as well as numerous other social events, the intimate personal and collective memories of which are contained within the walls of each concert room. Some Concert Rooms are impressive affairs comprising a huge stage, a state of the art lighting rig and sound system and enormous dance floors, and while others have retained their original charm, some have sadly fell into disrepair

Mark’s Steels Social Club Residency (November 2013) is part of an ongoing exploration into his own social and cultural heritage, supported during The Social festival. Mark worked with both photography and video to present a portrait of a wide and varied cross section of the community that have a cultural and social connection to the space, to provide an insight into the lives that have been played out within its concert room.

Established in the 1950s, Steels is one of Sunderland’s most popular and longest running social clubs. Through his residency Mark explored the social and cultural history of the Concert Room as a unique space for social engagement, looking at the past, present and future uses of the room.

Additionally, ten images from Mark’s existing Concert Room series were reproduced onto a series of beer mats to be used and enjoyed during The Social.


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