UPDATE: 5/6/14

I’ve finished the installation of Skylines today. It’s not in the gallery I’d been promised, so the whole installation has had to be reconceived, and some parts of it lost, but I think it looks pretty good and, whilst it’s gone a long way from my original concept, it seems likely to interest people.

I’ve had so many problems with getting this work right – or rather, approaching right – that I wasn’t really that surprised to find that the last stage was also a big hiccup. It did induce me to make a couple of creative changes which I think were creative improvements, which is always good, but neither the poetry nor the images are quite what I was intending. I think, in effect, it’s a work in progress – but whether there’ll ever be a chance to complete it is anybody’s guess.

I do need to add some special last minute thanks, though, to two people who made the final version so much better than it otherwise would have been. Firstly, local artist Caroline Quincy, who makes wonderful prints onto slate, and cutout cards, generously provided me wit cut-out text for the ceiling hangings (verbal mobiles, really). Again, some of her work could not appear, but actually I find it probably the most effective part of the exhibition, an added dimension which works really well. Secondly Sheffield Library Archives, and in particular Robin Wiltshire, the archivist who helped me, in allowing me use of around 20 images from the online photographic archive, Picture Sheffield. Again, I couldn’t use every image I’d nominated, but some of the best images in the installation have come from this source and certainly there were gaps in the concept I couldn’t fill without this resource.

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On this page I’m recording some of the details of my Skylines project, as it nears completion.

I’m creating the Skylines for Sheffield’s Midsummer Poetry Festival at Bank St Arts Centre, due to commence on June 6th. The installation is a series of poems and photographs arranged against the timeline of my life in the city. I was born in Sheffield, left at the age of nine, returned for my PhD study when twenty-three, and have lived here every since.

My idea is that we know places as much by what we see from them as within them. We’re always gazing away from where we are to places we have been or want to be, to nostalgic places of comfort or exciting prospects in new fields. As we live our lives, we form a map of where we’ve been, and that map is filled by our glimpses of other views. Wherever we are, we have a viewpoint on where we have come from and where we might go, and we plot a route through life following the visions of those places.

So the installation maps my route through the city of Sheffield. (There’ll be a gap in the installation to represent my absence from the city. This, conveniently, forms the window in the gallery). By filling it with images of the city, seeing each of the places that are meaningful to me as a viewpoint on other aspects of the city, I hope my city will intersect with that of others.

In order to gather interesting photos to support the poems in this enterprise, I’ve asked widely for people to offer me photos of or from various locations in the city. I’ve been very lucky in the number of responses I’ve had, some people offering quite wonderful and different viewpoints on my city.

Here’s a complete list of credits.

The key photographer has been my wife, Carrol, who has trekked back and forth across the town to photograph places she hardly know but which, for one reason or another, seem significant to me.

But all of the people below have been very generous in allowing me to use or abuse their work to enable my skyline:

Charlotte Ansell

Pete Dutton

Steve Earnshaw

Alison Fawcett

Julie Gillin

Cedric Green

Geff Green

Clare Jenkins

Angie Lauener

Margaret Lewis

Lydgate Lane School

Fay Musselwhite

Caroline Quincey

Ruby Robinson

Phil Roddis

Paul Stephenson

Elizabeth Uruchurtu



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