NEW!! Resources for schools and communities

I’ve just uploaded two sets of ideas for place-based activities in schools and communities. Head on over to the Resources page for these and for more links to other resources around the website.

It would be great if any of these suggested activities could be used to connect the people with the place and with each other: young and old; residents, businesses and public sector organisations. It would be equally great if some engaging public art was created. And last, but by no means least, it would be great if everyone involved had a lot of fun!

The ideas relate to different types of art, eg visual, conceptual, writing, digital, environment. Many of the ideas were dreamed up with school students in mind. They can all be adapted to fit different age groups.

Warwick Road wilderness

Following the “Minecraft my home” meet-up, my local councillor Peter Holland made the following request:

What I am hoping to do is show the Planning Committee what will be ‘lost’ if a footpath is constructed along the back of the proposed DCH/Cygnet housing development. It is only a very small strip of land which borders the gardens of the odd numbers from 41 [Warwick Road]. At present the path alongside the garden boundaries is locked outside of school hours.

The land at the rear of the gardens is currently a copse of established hazel trees, some of which are rooted in what appears to be a dilapidated Devon hedge. It is a refuge for wildlife, attracting a wide variety of birds including, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tail Tits, Coal Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Wren, Starling, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, House Sparrow, and Woodpigeon. Sparrow hawk are also occasionally seen in the local area. A number of bird species are currently using the trees and bushes for nest sites. Birds can be seen throughout most of the day foraging in the leaf litter or in the branches of the trees. During the summer months, bats are regularly found in our garden, which suggests that they may be roosting very close to the current vegetation. Bats have been witnessed flying in the gardens and the adjacent land this year from the 24 April.

It is noted that an ‘ecology zone’ is proposed within the north-east area of the housing development, but it seems illogical to destroy an established wildlife area by paving it with tarmac only to establish a new ‘ecology zone’ elsewhere. It was also noted that the environmental survey performed described a very limited array of birdlife. Quite clearly the area behind the gardens has a high level of biodiversity beyond that which was originally surveyed.

If the copse were to become a public path with access 24 hours a day, there is a security and vandalism risk to properties and boundary fence and the risk of noise from rowdy members of the public which would impact residents’ privacy. If street lighting were to be installed along the footpath, there is obvious risk of light pollution through residents’ windows.

What I would be grateful for is a Minecraft showing what the copse could look like.

Peter and I paid a site visit on Friday 22nd June, and we were joined by Mark from Exeter City Futures. I had just enough time to put together a Minecraft wilderness before the Planning  Committee meeting on the Monday.

A narrow dirt path winds through mossy stones, tall trees and saplings, creepers, ferns, grasses, fungi, and a few flowers, and eventually gets lost in the undergrowth. My version of Minecraft is a bit limited in terms of bird species, so I had to be content with releasing bats, cats, and rabbits, and a few spider webs.

It’s a small example of how Minecraft can be used to imagine our place, to the extent of forming part of an official planning meeting! Here are some real life photos, Minecraft screenshots before and after, and a video walk-through.

Minecraft my home meetup

Minecraft my home - posterAs part of Art Week Exeter, which ran from 22-28 May I held a Minecraft meetup in St Loyes on Sat 26 May.

It was an opportunity for some to learn about Minecraft, and for others to indulge in play.

So within the online world, we now have two herds of ocelots and cows roaming free, and a tribe of villagers somewhere…

Exeter City Futures are supporting the “Minecraft my home” activity, and on the day Mark from ECF kindly helped me out. During the day, he managed to build an ECF branch office in the Tesco car park.

I built the shell of a new St Loyes Community Hub, Cafe and Gallery on the patch of derelict land that used to be a petrol station near Middlemoor. It has a number of really bad design features!

It was good to welcome Peter Holland, my new City Councillor, and I think persuade him of the value of Minecraft as a way of re-imagining neighbourhoods.

Mark and I have also laid some red carpet along ‘desire paths’ – places in real life where people have walked to get from A to B and marked paths where there were none before.

Some of the creations so far are unlikely to happen. Working with Gold Towers – my Trumpesque rebuilding of my home – is never going to get planning permission. And I suspect the Carl Andre / Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy crossover sculpture is always going to be gravity-challenged!

You too can explore, play and build in the Minecraft world of St Loyes. You can download it, the online version should be available until about October 2018, and I’ve written a couple of crib sheets for newbies.

Have fun!

What three words…? map launch

A while ago, I came across the innovative addressing system what3words. It means that addresses need not be tied to streets and houses, but that anywhere can have an address. For example, the person sleeping under the Digby Hospital water tower has the address narrow.fade.novel.

I wondered whether I could do anything with it, and came up with the idea of asking people what three words their place means to them. Initially, i linked it to the address system, but that made it confusing, and it fell away.

So here is the What three words…? app, that let’s you choose your place and enter your words, and browse what others have said about their places.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be around and about the area with a tablet, asking people what they think. Watch out!

What three words...?

FALAFELS first drop

FALAFELS stands for Free Art Friday Exeter St Loyes Loves Anagrams. You have to think about it a bit!

Free Art Friday is a joyful way of sharing art, and brightening someone’s day – find out more about FALAFELS and the origins of Free Art Friday here.

Here’s a pic of my first FALAFELS drop on Friday 12th January. Can you tell where I left it, and where I was talking to Sue? Did you find the cards? Did you use the second one? Let me know in the comments below. More background to what’s on the card in a few days…

My hopes for FALAFELS are that you find and enjoy the pieces I’ll be leaving around St Loyes, and that you are inspired to get involved and do some Free Art Friday drops yourselves. The more the merrier!