Kate Downie

The Joke is one of a series based around my interest in a particular interchange in the heart of Edinburgh. This place, sited under a railway bridge by Holyrood, acts as a kind of boundary between the Royal Palace (& now parliament) and an ordinary working class tenement area of this city. 'The Joke' was made at a time when event or performance became a serious element in my work. As I was out on the edge of the pavement making this large collage, two cleaning women stopped to observe me on their return from an early morning shift. They gawked and laughed at the (to them) hilarity of my actions. We were 'characters' to each other, performers in the play of street life.

Around this time in the early 90s, the media was being bombarded with the new Glasgow Boys making angst-ridden, fatalistic views of the Scottish working class victim. As a woman, as an artist, I knew that our city populace was far more robust than that, less of an easy cliché.