Artist creates ‘York: Death By Heritage’ poster – and it’s genius

A detail from the Death By Heritage poster
5 Jun 2019 @ 6.40 pm
| Entertainment

At first glance it looks like one of those iconic travel posters you see at the National Railway Museum.

But look again and you’ll soon be laughing.

For this is an advert for York, reimagined by artist Jack Hurley.

Jack has a whole series of these posters, which you can see at his website Rubbish Seaside.

The full poster

He began his subversive poster art when he was freelancing for a T-shirt design company and someone asked for a poster of Cleethorpes with the ‘The Last Resort’ written underneath.

He loved the classic railway poster aesthetic. “Not only that, but having grown up in a number of seaside towns, I started to think that maybe I could extend this concept to a whole series and that’s how Rubbish Seaside started – part homage to the golden age of railway poster, part revenge for a youth spent kicking my heels in coastal backwaters.”

A rich target

All city life is here…
Later he turned his eye to inland towns and cities – and York was a prime choice for Jack.

Buy the poster

He lives in Leeds and “in a former life” did his NHS post-grad training at the University of York.

Nowadays he works every other Friday at Fabrication on Coney Street – where you can buy prints and postcards of the poster from this Friday (7 June).

Lots of customers asked him for a York version, and “it really appealed to me as something a bit different,” he told YorkMix.

“My usual bread and butter is grotty seaside towns and while I love doing them, it’s nice to pick on something different once in a while. It’s also a target-rich environment with plenty of different angles to come at it from.”

Medieval gawp-fest

Two of Jack’s other North Yorkshire creations
His regular work in York gave him an insight into the city as “neither a tourist nor as a resident”.

Jack said:

  • One of the things that made doing this poster so much fun was the dichotomy that you see in York: by day a genteel medieval gawp-fest that only just stays on the right side of theme-parkism, whilst as soon as it turns 6pm on a Friday, it suddenly morphs into this stag-and-hen free-fire zone.

    Also as well, you get the very well-heeled rubbing up against some very visible poverty, all bobbing along on a sea of awestruck tourists.

Towns are like people, Jack says. “They like to project an image of how they want to be seen, while if you scratch the surface, you’ll usually find something they that they’d really rather you didn’t.

“That’s the stuff I go for and I do try to be even-handed about it: I’m not out to make a point, I just call it like I see it and everyone’s fair game in my book.”

Less dawdling!

Low Petergate in real life
Jack, who is 39 and a professional artist, has one suggestion to improve York.

  • Less dawdling! As someone who lives in Leeds, the fact that the walk from the station to the shop is like the World Dawdling Championships drives me up the bloody wall!

    C’mon people – I’ve got places to be! Allez schnell vite vite!

He had thought about adding a Harry Potter shop to the York poster, but “it’s the sort of thing that earns me scary letters from expensive lawyers”.

Launched on Tuesday (4 June), the poster has had a “worryingly positive” reception. Comments on Reddit included “I like it, it is accurate, except half the shops need to be closed down with a quarter of them turning into luxury apartments and an Uber from Kirklees needs to be driving through the middle.”