Sheffield artist McKee to give away tins with an urgent message

One of the McKee tins that will be given in return for food bank donations.
One of the McKee tins that will be given in return for food bank donations.
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The rising use of food banks is arguably one of the most worrying trends in modern Britain - and it is a plight the Sheffield artist Pete McKee is drawing attention to ahead of his new exhibition.

Pete, whose forthcoming show This Class Works aims to celebrate the spirit of working class people, is helping to organise a pop-up donation centre together with the S2 Food Poverty Network later this month.

Pete McKee.

Pete McKee.

At the event, those who make a donation of food will receive a limited edition artwork - an empty tin can decorated with a McKee picture of a pensioner tucking in to a bowl of soup, watched hungrily by her pet dog.

The S2 food bank has been operating for five years, and reports an increase in demand for its services over that time. From January to April this year, it says, the number of people asking for food parcels went up by nearly a quarter, while in 2017 the charity helped 455 people per month.

People in the UK go hungry for a variety of reasons, from redundancy to having to pay an unexpected bill on a low income. The poverty network, which has distribution points at St Swithun's Church, Cary Road, and the Salvation Army on Duke Street, will send donations made at the pop-up to banks around Sheffield, to reach as many parts of the city as possible.

Pete recently visited the S2 charity, and said it was a 'privilege' to see the 'incredible work' of volunteers. “If even one food bank alone existed it would be one too many. Sadly the number of food banks throughout the UK are on the rise, reflecting the increasing numbers of people needing to use them."

The organisation offers long-term support, too, he said, tackling crises such as housing loss, family breakdowns, mental health problems and crime, 'with goals to help change people's situations'.

"This pop-up art exchange is just a small gesture, but hopefully it will not only provide much needed donations but also raise awareness that food banks still exist today. Hopefully, we can reach a point one day where the need can be eradicated.”

Tinned or dried goods - cereal, soup, baked beans, canned fish and the like - will be accepted, along with household goods including shampoo, washing powder, nappies and deodorant. Fresh food cannot be taken.

Five hundred McKee tins will be available, with one issued per person. The amount of donations people choose to make in return for an artwork is at their discretion.

This Class Works, which runs from July 14 to 29 at warehouse space 92 Burton Road in Neepsend, is Pete's first exhibition since he underwent a lifesaving liver transplant last year to treat cirrhosis caused by a rare genetic condition. As well as showing his own new pieces, he is collaborating with fellow artists, filmmakers and photographers who share his outlook on society.

The pop-up - This Class Gives - is happening at 40-44 Division Street in the city centre from 10am to 2pm on June 23.

Visit www.thisclassworks.com for details.