Further to yesterday’s post about my five-minute talk “Working with gold, weaving with data” at Exeter City Futures, I thought I’d share more of the talk content.
You can download my presentation slides as a pdf.
The purpose of my talk was as follows…
I have a developing vision for a programme of art in St Loyes, in east Exeter, aimed at nurturing a sense of place and building community. I want to ask how the processes and outputs could contribute to addressing the Exeter City Futures challenges, and how the programme could make use of ECF outputs such as #TranquilCityExeter.
After showing the audience a map of St Loyes, I asked them about their experience of St Loyes…
Who knows it? No hands go up
Works there? No hands go up
Lives there? No hands go up
Been there? Most of the audience, who have shopped at B&Q or Tesco, cue the laughter of realisation and a little greater understanding of where and what sort of ward St Loyes is.
So I spoke of my Vision for Working with Gold…
Through a programme of public art in its broadest sense to: nurture a sense of place among St Loyes residents and workers, and build community.
And its Objectives…
Produce engaging art in St Loyes
Engage and be led by the community
Connect residents, businesses and public sector organisations
Engage with nature and environment
Increase access to experiencing and making art
I spoke of St Loyes as the patron saint of goldsmiths, providing the name of the project, and about what I hope to do… recognising it’s early days in the shaping of the project…
Produce a series of ongoing regular activities
Produce community events and projects
Undertake my own work
Commission other artists
Shout about it from the rooftops!
To give a flavour of the activities, I spoke about the link with Exeter City Futures’ Tranquil City initiative. In a ward that is mostly council housing, suburbs, industrial and retail park, and motorway services, tranquility might seem to be at a premium. Yet there are many pockets of green space. One of my ideas is to hold some St Loyes Random Picnics, or SLuRPs for short! They would be an opportunity for residents and workers to visit measure the air quality, noise, and the types of transport used in the area.
My wander with Rosie revealed where people spend their time, and their rest time. These pockets of green, in the middle of a roundabout, or on a green verge in an industrial estate, are not particularly tranquil in themselves, but they are relatively tranquil compared with the workplace or the surrounding area. So the greatest benefits for people would be gained through improving these spaces, rather than enhancing already recognisably tranquil spaces.
The green verge was where Rosie and I saw some workmen in their hi-vis resting on the boulders and having a smoke. The boulders spoke to us at the time of exclusion, as they are there to prevent travellers from parking up on the verge. Later, we saw campervans parked up in another part of the industrial estate. The owners of this campervan knew where they could park, and this led Rosie and I to reflect on subversion. We did our own minor bit of subversion by foraging nearby. It might look like an industrial estate to many people, but I know where plums and blackberries can be found!
There are links here to Exeter City Futures’ programme of work on Exeter’s transport system. St Loyes is very much designed for the car, but there are many signs of subversion here too. Rosie and I saw and followed many many desire paths. The best example of these are between the pedestrian crossings at the traffic junctions on the Rydon Lane ring road. On either side of the dual carriageway, the footpaths from the offices of Pynes Hill and the Exe Vale Retail Park actually emerge about halfway between the crossings. There are many paths in the grass verge where office workers have simply taken the most direct route to cross.
St Loyes may be designed for the car, but real people are subverting this all the time. How instead can we design for people?
In conclusion, I posed some questions to Exeter City Futures and my audience in the room…
How can we work together?
How can public art help you?
How can you help us?