As the exhibition title – Zero Contract: Zero Contact – highlights, young riders in their teens or early twenties in this sector are often employed on zero hours contracts (which means they are on call to work only when needed by a business, and that employers are not legally obliged to give employees work, but in turn, their staff do not have to do work when asked). The increasing use of apps on mobile phones and computers means that human beings experience greatly reduced social interaction as a consequence.

Zero Contract: Zero Contact also shines a light on the inherent risks associated with young riders using two-wheeled transport to make fast food deliveries, in terms of increased road safety concerns. The exhibition also questions whether company uniforms and crash helmets can have the effect of ‘othering’ wearers so that drivers regard more vulnerable road users as something other than a human being.

Via Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, several members of the public donated 15 motorcycle helmets to YAK, which the young artists used as bases for a variety of eye-catching designs, ranging from fun, fast food-related themes to riffs on Chinese comics. The helmets will be displayed on coloured plinths, which themselves echo familiar traffic signals and furniture, such as traffic lights.

Through workshop and skills based sessions, Coggeshall-based artist Simon Emery from Paint Box shared and supported YAK members to draw designs of helmets which were developed into 3D works using spray paint and fabrication modelling.

Additional works in the exhibition will explore the proliferation of digital platforms and our reliance on them, while also encompassing concepts such as human dependence, social interaction and consumerism. Artificial Intelligence (AI) software has been used, to develop photographic backdrops and digitally printed fabrics, composing scenes that act as critiques of the digital labour market and our seemingly endless desire to buy evermore goods and services. But at what cost?

The show is the latest in a long-running series of opportunities for aspiring artists from Colchester to create new works and display them in a public gallery. This reflects Firstsite’s vision of ‘making art matter’ and Zero Contract: Zero Contact is a thought-provoking and innovative demonstration of this ethos.


Sally Shaw MBE, Director of Firstsite says: Zero Contract Zero Contact is a great example of how, together with YAK and external partners such as Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, we can highlight a really important issue that affects younger members of our community through art and creativity to inspire fresh perspectives.”


She adds: “The strikingly different helmet designs add a real sense of personality and serve to draw attention to the idea of a real person behind the visor; someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, friend. The exhibition really makes us consider the human cost of convenience and will help to open up conversations about how we can all find ways to address these issues, whether as road users, politicians creating legislation or services such as Essex County Fire and Rescue who work so hard to help make all road users safe.”


After reading a powerful study about the experiences of on-demand food delivery couriers in Edinburgh, called My Life Is More Valuable Than This, Andrea MacAlister, Temporary Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was moved to contact Firstsite, with a view to creating a dynamic, community-based initiative that would draw attention to this important area of road safety.


Andrea MacAlister says: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is a strategic partner of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP).  As a partnership, SERP undertake a range of measures to make Essex roads safer for all who use them.  This is undertaken as part of the partnerships shared “Vision Zero” goal of eliminating death and serious injury from road traffic collisions.

Essex is a great county for motorcycling; and there is a tremendous amount to enjoy while biking in Essex.  But sadly, People riding motorcycles face the greatest likelihood of death or serious injury of anyone driving on the roads.  Motorcyclists face particular risks and, unlike a car, a motorcycle offers very little protection to the rider in the event of a collision. There has been a significant rise in motorcycle deliveries over the past few years and this cannot come at the expense of safety.

Working with Firstsite Young Artist Kommunity on this project has been a fantastic collaboration, and I have been so impressed with their creative ideas and considerations on this subject.  The showcase of their work is thought provoking, emotive and powerful. They should be really proud of what they have achieved.

SERP is committed to helping motorcyclists stay safe on the roads, and to this end we deliver a wide package of measures and assistance for riders themselves, and to raise awareness among other road users of the need to look out for motorcyclists. To find out more or pledge your support for Vision Zero, please visit:

 Vision Zero Pledge – SERP (