Thursday, 10 July 2014

BENEATH THE PAVEMENT - The Participant's View - CHLOE ASHLEY


Beneath the Pavement was an amazing two days of presentations, walks interventions and discussions, concerning working within the art’s public realm sector in relation to Stoke-on-Trent, with the ultimate aim to improve the creative sector of the city. After a wonderful set of presentations from the programme’s lead artists and the invited speakers, I was grouped with Emily, Phil, Rachel and Jane, in which we began many discussion concerning possible ideas for working within the public realm, whilst taking further walks around the city. Although we didn’t actively create any works during the two days like some of the other groups, the chance to discuss and talk through different ideas was incredibly interesting and helpful. This allowed time to process the abundance of information for the development of ideas occur later on.


Initially I felt confused about what art within the public realm actually was. Was it transforming spaces into studios/exhibition spaces, creating pop up shops/cafĂ©’s, tending to green spaces, improving aspects of the city such as seating areas, or responding to the place and site in response to own practice? I felt torn what was more important. However, I began to realise that working within the public realm can encompass all of the above aspects, and one type of intervention is not necessarily more important then the other.

                                      

After each walk, I became further drawn to the contrasting architecture and began to link this with my current research and practice. Emily suggested that utilizing my own practice within site wasn’t selfish (my initial concern) and could take form as small intervention, such as a publication about the city’s architecture or projections in overlooked corners of buildings. 




A week after the development programme, I’m still in a very early development stage in regards to my proposal, although last week I returned to Hanley to undertake another walk around the center for further inspiration. This time I brought my cameras, documenting some of the amazing buildings that inhabit Stoke (images within post). I think exploring the city further is definitely in order over the next month, I feel this could unearth many more hidden gems with potential and to help clarify ideas and thoughts.



Initial Observations and Thoughts:

I’ve listed below a few initial observation of the city center whilst undertaking the development programme:

· Cleaning and maintenance of city needs to be addressed, so much litter and derelict building. What is going to happen to the old Hanley Shopping Centre? However these buildings have so much potential, and some are incredibly beautiful (1 Bethesda is a fantastic example).

· Some amazing features (mosaic piece above Wilkinson and benches with willow patterns within the center of Hanley) have been unmaintained and overlooked; with a little care, these could be really brought to life.

· There seems to be a lot of small green spaces that need tending to, would it be interesting to create mini allotments/herb gardens which the community could benefit on (would there be enough space for this?)

· It was very bizarre how the new aspects of the city conjoined in an unusual manner with derelict and disused areas. One could easily walk through Parliament Row and be confronted by the neglected space within the Old Hall Street. How could this be addressed?


What are other initiatives within city’s that involve art within the public realm? I began thinking of activities and spaces that have took place in other cities, such as drawing tours or First Friday’s. Could these be adopted in Stoke?

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