Kid in a Sweet Shop
by Jo Peel
November 8th – November 30th
Art of Protest Gallery, York. 16 Little Stonegate
The UK chocolate industry is the centre of a new solo exhibition by Sheffeild born urban landscape artist Jo Peel at
The Art of Protest Gallery York. Over the past 9 months Jo has painted a series of works presenting the journey of
UK chocolate from utopian communities to a globalised driver of stock exchanges around the world. The paintings,
and screen prints, focus is on how chocolate has influenced the cities of York, Birmingham and London; and how
philanthropy expressed through architecture and social planning were overtaken by the bottom line economics of
the late 20th century.
There will be a series of original paintings on canvas and drawings on paper shown at the exhibition which include
contemporary views of York, Birmingham and London. In addition, an exclusive limited edition collection of hand
pulled screen prints will also be available to own. Jo will be installing a new indoor mural within Brew York’s beer
hall and a street art installation at The Art of Protest Gallery on Little Stonegate prior to the exhibition opening.
Jo Peel explained her inspiration “Over the last nine months I have been researching the British chocolate industry.
Starting in York with Rowntree’s and Terry’s and on to Bournville to discover a parallel history steeped in Quaker
roots and a philanthropic approach to business.
I was interested with the parallels in the rise of the chocolate industry and the rise of capitalism; as chocolate has
often been described as “The perfect drug for Capitalism”
The slow erosion of ideals in favour of profit were finalised when the Cadbury business was bought by Kraft, and
now Mondelez, in a hostile takeover. Both Rowntree and Terry’s are also owned by Nestle and Mondelez
From site visits and photographs, I have created a body of work for the exhibition that documents the buildings as
they stand now. Cadbury is the only one left still functioning as a chocolate factory today.
Of the collection Jo Peel said “It really struck me how visual the legacy of the chocolate industry was at the heart of
these cities. Decisions taken were influenced by their Quaker ideals with investment in the communities where their
workers lived and worked. The buildings and community projects left over by chocolate give us an alternative visual
record on this time. Through the remaining, and changing, architecture 150 years of industrialisation and de-
industrialisation is the landscape for all that see it today.”
Craig Humble, co-founder of The Art of Protest Gallery said “The exhibition reminds us of one of the first principles
of landscape painting, a nostalgia for what is gone. If Constable was reacting to the Industrial revolution and land
enclosure’s effect on the working people of the day I feel Jo Peel is doing something similar with this collection. The
buildings and views she selects remind us of something that is gone. Once the employers were at the heart of
shaping the community and influencing their workers values. This exhibition, for me, isn’t about whether things are
better or worse at these two points as hindsight can sometimes chocolate coat the past as maybe Constable did;
but by documenting the changes in contemporary paintings Jo has created a collection tied to our society’s
evolution from manufacturing to consuming. It may also be asking us how business is now is aspiring toward a
utopia; and who will leave a legacies as potent as the Rowntree’s or Cadbury’s of the 19th century.”
Jeff Clarke, of The Art of Protest Gallery, added “We’ve had Jo’s work in the gallery since this time last year and
been overwhelmed with the warm reception people have had for her alternative views of the world we live in. She
does our favourite thing of making us look and reassess what is beautiful and worthy of being a subject for painting.
Jo is well known as a street artist and animator with these aspects of her work displayed from Cambodia to London
and from Pittsburgh to Sheffield. We are really grateful and proud to work with Jo while she has been looking at
some of York’s other histories and how that echoes through the country via a history of chocolate and sugar.”
Exhibition opens to the public on November 9th until November 25th at The Art of Protest Gallery, 16 Little
Stonegate, York YO1 8AX – 01904 659008
Craig Humble co-founder Art of Protest Gallery – 07989970011 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Clark co-founder Art of Protest Gallery – 07969398388 – email@example.com