Thursday, 3 July 2014


Beneath the Pavement 27th and 28th June 2014

Had a great two days with the Beneath the Pavement project at AirSpace. Supported by Appetite and the City Centre Partnership 15 artists were led by Anna Francis, Emily Speed, S Mark Gubb and Dan Thompson to explore public realm practice in relation to new opportunities in the city centre. The lead artists gave us a background to their work and we were taken on a tour of the citys public realm by Jonathan Bellamy and Rachel James of the CCP. We got to see thing that many of us had never seen, such as the now unused courtroom in the Town Hall and inside the Victorian gem, 1 Bethesda. I was interested to see how the recent refurbishment of the public realm had made a mostly positive impact on the feel of the city. A gripe did materialise though in that it was a blanket scheme with little or no change of feel in the different locations. Yet.

We had all been partnered with one of the lead artists and I was with the delightful Emily Speed. We discussed whether we had any ideas based on our earlier tour and then walked around again to consider locations and possibilities.

Several things interested me. When we had arrived in the morning we were asked to put a tag on a map of the city where we saw an opportunity for a piece of work. I noted that there was a common thread for greening the city. Steve Ralphs, landscape designer with the city council flagged up that there wasnt much space to put in trees within the public realm due to the services under the ground. So I am interested in how to inject greenery into the city without interfering with these services. The notion Im working with here is rather than trying to design the possible, Im exploring the impossible. Gardens in the Air. What does it mean and how might it be done?

gardens in the air
Another idea was to install a large digital screen/s somewhere in the city (location/s to be considered) that is dedicated to contemporary artists work. An opportunity for an ongoing, rolling programme of video, animation, photography etc open to artists and curators. Duration might vary but could be weekly, monthly etc. The screen could be a simple flat one or several built into a structure,

screen location
My first note on the map had been to flag up a possible location for some work on the gable end walls of the buildings at the bottom of Piccadilly that face down Broad Street. I have felt for some time that this was an opportunity for a simple colour field mural, and Dan Thompsons mention of Dazzle camouflage re-ignited it for me.

bottom of piccadilly
All in all it was a great two days with a buzzing group of artists. I see this as a milestone opportunity to positively enhance the city as artists through dialogue with the city and its council. Much to be done, but thats exactly what we want!

Phil Rawle

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