Daily Archives: September 30, 2013

Jack Mackem – The Sunderland Fitter


After a couple of years hiatus it was once again time for Upnorthfest. After the first one in Southport this time it was back but had gone further up north to Sunderland. After we’d loaded up the id-iomobile it was time to hit the road. A gruelling 6.5 hour drive saw us arriving around 1.30am where, thankfully, our gracious host was still up and receiving guests. (A big thanks to Pauline for putting us up and Frank for putting us in touch with her!)

The next morning we were up early and headed down to Studio Q where we’d be painting. Street work in late September is always something of a gamble so we were hugely relieved that it was blue skies and sunshine all round. We got shown to our wall but it hadn’t yet been painted with red oxide, the paint of choice for this year’s festival, so to start the day it was rollers at the ready with red oxide in hand. The first act of the day was managing to break the extendable roller so a quick trip to Homebase was in order. After that it was the laborious job of painting the wall with the glue-like red oxide.

Using the tower scaffold proved easier than anticipated once we’d managed to get the legs level and once the wall was dry it was time to move onto the main event – Jack Mackem the Sunderland Fitter. We’d done a little research in the hopes of coming up with a good design and it was revealed that historically the playing card the Jack of Clubs was also known as the Sunderland Fitter. Once we had this little nugget of information the design pretty much suggested itself.  The ‘Mackem’ ambigram in the middle was the final flourish and we’re left with the somewhat moody visage of Jack Mackem the Sunderland Fitter. As he’s the Jack of Clubs it’s probably fitting that he looks something like a bouncer. With any luck he’ll be gracing the streets for a couple of years so keep your eyes open if you’re up in the North East.




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