My Friends Went To Blackpool And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Tonight BasementArtsProject will be opening a new exhibition by Leeds based artist Naomi Gilby entitled Pleasure. Please feel free to come and join us at 7.30pm for this event. As with all BasementArtsProject exhibitions and events it is free and food and drink will be available.

Bruce Davies | September 2018



My Friends Went To Blackpool And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

I want to talk about my thoughts on three things: Blackpool rock, Britney Spears and the National Express. If you think one of these things doesn’t look like the other, just bear with me. 

On my way to installing the exhibition at BasementArtsProject, I’d come straight (not quite) from Blackpool. Five buses, seven hours and one break in Manchester. Due to Northern Rail needing to give their heads a wobble, extended trip, national express and trek across the north it is. Me dad dropped me off in his van pretty early at Blackpool’s coach station, which is actually a car park in the middle of town, grid locked by chippies, off the wall tattoo shops and Blackpool’s famous Coral Island; a huge arcade with by far the best ticket to prize exchange. 


Off I get on the coach armed with my reduced M&S sarnie as I watch the holiday makers shove binbags full of arcade prizes into the overhead storage. Stopping off in Manchester on my way home back to Leeds felt weird, I knew automatically where to go to get a quiet coffee. Being the biggest and best city close enough to Blackpool I spent a lot of time in Manchester as a teenager, queuing for hours outside the O2 academy drinking MD 20-20 waiting for bands or roaming around Affleck’s palace not actually buying anything. I know the city so well but it keeps me on edge for some reason…

Back on the coach, the scenery turns greener, I’m over the moors and I’m nearly back in Leeds, this is the moment I realize that I woke up in Blackpool and now I’m off to be setting up a show all about it. 

Installing the show, the sickly sweet smell of the work makes me feel a bit nauseous, but I felt more nauseous when Bruce tells me that he has never been to Blackpool. It’s as if I can’t comprehend a northerner never having visited Blackpool, surely it’s a working class right of passage? Almost every new person I meet when I tell them where I’m from, ends up telling me their Blackpool story, and I love it.

 “we used to go every year when we were kids”

“I remember when the Big One opened”

“bring us back a stick a rock”

Yeah the sea is more shit-filled and sludgy these days compared to the all-healing salt waters people used to travel for a century ago, but I do still love hearing peoples Blackpool stories, so how it got to install day before finding out Bruce had never been beats me. Anyway, what does Britney Spears have to do with this? That was the reason I was visiting Blackpool that weekend, to see her. It was such a surreal experience finally getting to see my favourite childhood popstar in my home town – on the prom – in front of Blackpool bloody tower. I can honestly say I don’t think Britney had any idea where on earth she was, and why would she? Whilst it’s not the usual venue she is used to, it was a huge deal for Blackpool to have such a mega star play in our town, and I bloody loved it. So great to see the town flooded with excited people all there for the same reason (there were still a few stag dos). But I felt very proud, a kind of ‘it’s a shit hole but it’s our shit hole’ moment. 

Lastly, the thing that topped it all was that Britney was selling Blackpool rock will her branding on. It’s so tacky, it’s so sweet! God love ya Britney Spears. I think it’s far more entertaining than a lousy tea towel…


Naomi Gilby | September 2018