Rob Ryan

‘When I Was A Boy’


This hand-cut paper piece was made for the ‘Museum of Us’ exhibition at the Horse Hospital in London in 2004.


‘When I was a boy there were lots of ladybird books about people with jobs for you to read. There were books about milkmen who got up very early. And books about coal miners who worked so hard + in dangerous conditions. They were brave + sacrificed their lives so that we could sit warm in front of the fire drinking hot milk. there were trawlermen who risked sailing perilous seas so we could enjoy eating fish. And there were nurses who were kind and cared for you. Policemen who helped you and were your friends. People who did REAL jobs. Their jobs in a way dictated their characters. Serious, stern, jolly, brave, honest, kind, noble. USEFUL. And now I look at these old papery warn simple little books I read when I was a child. I hold them in my hand and I try and see my little hands as i would have had then when the book was new. Small little hands that needed bigger hands to trust and put faith in and to say ‘Don’t worry we will look out for you and care for you’ and those voices were always there. I look at what i do and think where is the honour in all this? I have somehow strayed away from what I should be saying. More now than ever it is always me rather than us. This job of making words, pictures, songs carries with it a responsibility more than any other job. And it is a job. Don’t ever say it isn’t. Lets be proud of our job and our work. And not fail and do good things good men would applaud.’

Date: 2004