Clare and Rosie go for a wander

My ideas for an artist’s residency in St Loyes Exeter are gathering momentum. I’m close to putting in my first grant application, and on Friday 28 July Rosie King kindly joined me on a walk around the ward.

I first came across Rosie in 2015 when she was chalking the pavement of Princesshay, creating her temporary site-specific installation ‘Walk Along A Promise’ for Not Open Studios Exeter. And then again as part of the ‘Sister City’ show at TOPOS during Art Week Exeter 2017. I like her work, so invited her over from Plymouth to explore a bit of Exeter she didn’t know.

And the yellow line shows where we went…

Map of Clare and Rosie's route

There was a great deal to mull over:

  • St Loyes as the digestive system of Exeter, the source of much of what it needs: water, energy, comms companies have offices there; Sowton supplies building materials, Amazon, Booker; police, fire, ambulance have bases.
  • St Loyes is on the east side of the city; it’s where the sun rises and the day starts.
  • Transience & liminality: arterial routes bounding or cutting through; holiday makers on change-over day at the J30 services; shoppers at Exe Vale retail park; boulders placed against travellers.
  • Urban design priorities, and subverting them: road crossings fit with cars rather than people on foot; desire paths where the crossings are made anyway; men in hi-vis jackets, using the boulders as a smoking stop; the homeless man making a camp.
  • Green space: all the trees and mini-wildernesses, and dens; pockets of green and biodiversity; picnic tables and benches dotted around Sowton.
  • Different areas of knowledge held by different people: where to forage for cherries, plums and blackberries; where parking spots for campervans are available.
  • ‘Waves of immigration’ and its associated architecture: pre-war council housing; suburbs of the 1960s and 1970s boom; new suburban in-fill estates, building on the green lungs.
  • Signage: restricting parking; designated activity zones; rules in playgrounds and other possibly community space.

It’s an area ripe for an artistic response!

Rosie’s photos of suburban architecture through the ages:

And mine of pockets of green space:

Rosie at the M5 J30 tree circle