Better To Wear Out Shoes Than Sheets

Thursday 26th September / 11AM @ Gymnasium Gallery

Thursday 26th – Sunday 29th September | 11:00 – 18:00

Matt Hulse
Festival Commission
UK | 2013 | looped

Centred on a mysteriously abandoned camping spot, Matt Hulse’s three- screen installation playfully revisits and reassembles footage, props, costume and artefacts from his feature film Dummy Jim, about profoundly deaf Scots cyclist and author James Duthie, who pedalled solo to the Arctic in 1951.

In this newly commissioned installation, possessions belonging to Duthie himself complete an engaging, kaleidoscopic exploration of character, adaptation, process, mythology and memorialisation.

The installation has been created in conjunction with a special screening of Dummy Jim, Hulse’s feature film based on James Duthie’s 1951 journal, I Cycled into the Arctic Circle. The artist-director received a copy of the journal from his mother in 2000 and was inspired to tell his story. Created as part of a wider cross-platform project and crowdfunded through pioneering techniques predating Kickstarter, Hulse’s own adventure was 13 years in the making.

Dummy Jim made its world premiere in competition at Rotterdam International Film Festival this year, and previews in Berwick on Saturday 28th September

"It's evident from observations made in James Duthie's journal that he experienced the world in a physical, tactile and functional way. People, food, places, events, historical facts are described with almost equal emphasis. The terse feel of his wholly unpretentious writing style serves only to exaggerate his peculiar tone and world view, one informed by his stolid Presbyterian faith. It was this sense of 'physicality' that I worked hard to bring out in the film 'Dummy Jim'. I wanted the audience to sense in their hands the damp tent canvas, the cosiness of the knitted wool, the unforgiving granite being cut, the smell of the pages of the old Bible. To explore and emphasize this physicality seemed to me to be a more faithful adaptation of his unique writing style and tone than might be possible with a straight narrative dramatization. The new installation 'Better To Wear Out Shoes Than Sheets' allows me to extend that exploration further, and to bring the physical aspects even more to the fore. By resurrecting film props, costumes and artifacts alongside some of Duthie's actual possessions, and setting these against an ever-shifting reworking of the original film, lines that separate factual presentation from fictional or theatrical display - and the screen from the audience - are playfully blurred."

- Matt Hulse  

Artist’s Profile:


Matt Hulse is an artist who makes films, working with text, web, music/sound, performance, live events and community to articulate and share his curiosity and observations. His work is playful, innovative and collaborative, crossing and combining genres, techniques and platforms. Best known for his award-winning shorts and first feature, documentary Follow The Master (2009), Hulse’s films have screened at film festivals internationally since 1990. The founder-curator of the Audible Picture Show, a touring presentation of audio art works for darkened cinemas, since 2009 Hulse has been the organiser of the Sign Language Cinema festival, a showcase of deaf moving-image culture. Dummy Jim (2013) is his second feature.

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Artist Matt Hulse Year 2013 Duration 15 minutes