Monday, May 5, 2008

Flowers for the Eccentric City

Word has just been received that my proposal 'Flowers for the Eccentric City' has been selected, and I have therefore received the honour of their £1 Arts commission! This means that not only can I afford to make a new piece of work, but the documentation of the project will be published in the next issue of the Eccentric City.
Package arrives: the £1 commission and other stuff from 'The Eccentric City.'

My proposal included the following;
'The £1 Commission scheme would be an excellent opportunity to try out a new area of my practice which is based on the idea that even quite ugly, rundown areas of our city can be brightened up. I propose to spend the £1 commission on a packet of seeds which I will then go and plant in a brownfield area of the city, where the houses have recently been knocked down. There are many areas like this in Stoke-on-Trent, and once demolition has taken place they typically remain empty for years at a time. I will take the seeds and plant them, and then return periodically over the summer months to check on the progress of the seeds. Planting seeds is a new area for me, although I have previously created works involving the planting of bulbs.'
The idea is not new, and has been germinating since the summer of 2006, when I first started visiting these sites and photographing the slow and painful demolition process, watching streets being taken apart house by house. The sites remain open and empty for years, and what is interesting is the way the buddleia, poppies and even aquilegia take over fairly quickly. I felt that to add to the site, with either flowers, to make it more beautiful, or vegetables, to make it useful - as a food source, during the interim period between demolition and rebuilding would make the whole process more bearable for those who still have to pass the sites daily.
I told someone a while back about the idea and they told me about a man that they met through a community programme;
He is a recovering alcoholic, recently out of prison, he is prone to bouts of depression. He takes walks around the city where he lives, and on these walks he takes balloons which are filled with seeds and some water. When he sees a site in the city which looks a bit destitute, overlooked, or messy (much like the brownfield sites surrounding Stoke-on-Trent) he throws his balloon bomb, which splits open, scattering the soaked seeds around the space. Later the seeds grow, and the space is improved. This sounds like a really great way to take control of your life and see the effect that you as an individual can have on your surroundings. Is he an artist?
Synchronicity for the Eccentric City.

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