I had been taking small groups of artists on tours of the sites with maps, and as a result Rednile asked me to lead a tour for a group of 20 artists as one of their factory nights. For this tour I focused on trying to show the sites of a number of the sculpture trail artworks from the festival. Only a few of the pieces remain on site now, some have been dispersed around the city, while others have vanished. The idea was to inspire the artists on the tour to send in proposals to Rednile for a series of commissions, which would hopefully raise the profile of the Festival Site, and Rednile and I selected 3 of the proposals to go ahead.
Little Earthquake's Phil put forward the idea of intimate tours which would locate some of the artworks from the festival in the city, but also bring people from the city up onto the site.
Ruthie Ford was inspired by my collection of Woman's Weekly magazines, as they had commissioned a Cottage Garden at the Festival in '86.
David Bethell's 'Against All the Odds.' A durational performance lasting a day and a night, which was inspired by the changing use of the site. From factory, to steelworks, to leisure space, and now to office and retail space. In particular, David was interested that one of Stoke's largest growing employers Bet365 employees often visit the site in lunch breaks - finding a welcome escape from the office environment. David set up an office at the original compass point - the site of Richard Wilson's lighthouse 'Stoke Lightening Stack.' A sculpture made of scrap car headlamps, originally intended as a permanent piece, and one of the artworks that we cannot find out much about. The performance saw Dave setting up an office space, and working at his desk, then as night fell the office was dismantled and turned into a lighthouse, and then a life raft, and then back to an office again, ready for morning.
Originally, the organisers of NGF '86 put forward the idea that the park would become a Sculpture Park. This would have been a fantastic asset for the city, especially with the names of the important artists that had works on the site: Antony Gormley, Richard Wilson, Cornelia Parker to name just a few. My tours and the Factory Night commissions have raised the sites profile, and I hope more people will visit the site as a result. One of the fantastic outputs of the Factory Night project is the map which Andrew Branscombe kindly made for the project. This new map shows the site as it is today, and locates where many of the park's amazing features were, and some still are. This map can be found here. My final tour of the Garden festival site took place last weekend, and coincided with David Bethell's performance.