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Stepz II: Between the Rollerama and the Junkyard

I was really excited to find out that a piece of writing of mine was to be included in a Psychogeograpy Zine to be included in the LRM’s Loitering with Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking in Manchester and Beyond – at the People’s History Museum, Manchester.

The exhibition is on until October 16th and is a must see if you’re interested in the themes of Psychogeography, Situationism and how we interact with the cities we inhabit. It’s also one of my favourite museums, with historical objects representing the struggles and lives of the people.

The piece of writing was a collection of thoughts around a residency I completed during the summer/ Autumn of 2015. I have been thinking a lot about the city that I’ve made my home over the last 12 years, and that I spend my childhood visiting. Noticing the frequent changes over the past few years and the feelings of loss and nostalgia that is promoting in me.

Some of the places I talked about in the piece have already been demolished, in just 6 months since I wrote it. Here it is, with an accompanying image from the work that was produced during the residency.

A Different Kind of Map: Imprint of a trading estate

During the summer of 2015 I found myself becoming obsessed with an area of Salford – the ‘other’ city – where unmanicured space still exists, a place on the brink of change. This place with the best view of the Manchester skyline and green space that helped me to breathe. Open space, a rare commodity in cities.

I’d find myself crossing the Irwell and sitting in the stillness of the Princes Bridge. A bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Entering the no-man’s-land between the two cities. One shiny and one exposed and raw.

They say the city is for consumption, ‘People factories’, traditional industry now transitioned to the business of high-rise office blocks and dystopian gleaming private spaces. Contained and restricted. But this place tells a different story.

Clover, nettles, buddleia, thistle, the roar of traffic and the sound of water. Cranes and buildings creeping up, gated and fenced off. The clatter and screech of trains and the banging of construction. A place for passing through. And then, down the steps and into this edge land of both cities.

This area in the process of being discussed, bought and branded. Remnants of activity common to edge lands. In transition, with developments springing up and ‘unused’ land being cleared. An area that was once used by industry now seems unused and unloved, but in reality, used in ways which seem unfathomable to those in the business of development.

I began documenting and capturing fragments of this environment. Wandering and observing, taking in the space in a way that I hadn’t before. Making use of things that existed in the environment that shouldn’t have; paint, board, scraps of metal, plant-life. Taking away and gathering. An archaeology of sorts. Found objects were displayed, altered, added to, encased, re-purposed, weeds pressed, berries collected and jam produced. Equivalents were made, maps, rubbings, drawings, photographs.

In responding to and exploring this environment in an unstructured way, I unconsciously created a visual map of its un-mappable parts. On a map just a series of blank squares; but actually an area rich in stories, traces of objects and alternative uses. I aimed to give the traces a sort of new life, a permanence. Examining the things we make, their transformation back to nature and the elements they came from – what we leave behind and what sticks around. Spaces captured before they cease to exist.

And, bubbling under the surface are always the big questions. Questions around the value of land, ownership and consumption. Questions about our society’s obsession with productivity and concern for those spaces and buildings that are in between monetary usefulness.

Walking and collecting as document of space and time.

I wandered and gathered. And from that, a new kind of map was formed…


You can pick up a physical copy of the zine here – it’s a beautiful object with some really fascinating work included.

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