Sheffield artist Pete McKee evokes 'spirit of the working class' in first exhibition since lifesaving surgery

Pete McKee is returning with a new exhibition, This Class Works
Pete McKee is returning with a new exhibition, This Class Works
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Sheffield painter and cartoonist Pete McKee is to stage his first major exhibition since undergoing a lifesaving transplant operation.

This Class Works - an 'exploration and celebration of the working class' with a political edge - comes two years after McKee's last show, and is happening this summer at warehouse space 92 Burton Road in Neepsend.

5.15, a new piece by Pete McKee from This Class Works

5.15, a new piece by Pete McKee from This Class Works

The project represents new territory for Pete, who has worked with fellow artists, filmmakers and photographers who share a similar outlook on society.

In May 2017 he was given a replacement liver after developing cirrhosis, triggered by a rare genetic condition.

Thousands of people went to see his 2016 exhibition Six Weeks to Eternity, a nostalgic look back at school summer holidays, at the Magna centre in Rotherham.

“It’s been two years since my last show which was an incredible experience for me and all who were involved and attended," said McKee. "During that time, I have been through a lot personally with my transplant operation but have continued to work wherever I can, so to now be at the point where I am ready to show the world my latest work, about a topic I am extremely passionate about, is a fantastic feeling."

He said he had been working alongside 'a range of other very talented, creative people', and aimed to 'redress the unbalance that exists in the media and society'. "Unbalance that seems to deride and tar the working class as lazy, selfish, needy, ignorant, intolerant, worthless and the cause of all society's problems. It’s important for me to show the spirit of the working class; the pride, hope, fight, passion and resourcefulness that has been their foundation."

One new piece, 5.15, depicts a man waiting alone at a bus stop on a deserted street as a double-decker approaches, just visible around the corner of a row of houses.

McKee, 52, grew up on a council estate as the youngest of four children. His father was a steelworker, and his mother worked for a bakery.

"Everyone around us was as poor as we were, practically everything in our house was bought on the never never, half my clothes didn’t fit and the other half had been previously worn by someone else," said Pete, who had jobs in a factory and as a postman before turning to art full-time.

“I look back on those times with fondness of how we seemed to survive on tenacity and an unfailing hope that better was around the corner. I want the exhibition to highlight the nobleness and dignity of the working class, then and now, and for those who visit this exhibition to leave exhilarated and enlightened to its beauty.”

This Class Works will be open for 16 days from July 14 to 29, and visitors need to buy a ticket and book a two-hour time slot. Opening hours will be 4pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 8pm at weekends. Tickets, costing £5 each including an exhibition programme, go on sale on Friday at 10am. Under 12s go free and there is limited availability for school trips.

Visit, call 0114 263 1000 or visit McKee's gallery A Month Of Sundays, on Sharrow Vale Road, in person to book.