On Saturday 19th May we launched the 'public' face of Wasteland Twinning Nottingham. Whilst action-research has been ongoing for almost a year now, this marked the first in a series of planned events to present our ideas so far, and to broaden out our discussion about the function of the wasteland to a new audience, including members of the local community.
To this end, we organised a tour of The Island site with Christopher Matthews, a local historian who lives less than half a mile from The Island. Walking to three different locations on the site, as well as up to the site of the former London and North-Western Railway's goods yard (now a 60s housing estate) that overlooks it, Chris spoke about four different areas of the site's history, and how these touch upon its present (dis)use and its future possibilities: landscape, infrastructure (with a particular focus on the importance of the railway - including a fantastic story about an engine being kidnapped by a rival railway company), industry and planning. A fuller record of Chris' tour will be made public at a later date.
Following this, we moved on to One Thoresby Street - a gallery and studio complex that overlooks the site. Here, we spoke about how the site can function as a 'heuristic device' - a near tabula rasa that enables us to imagine how the site (and by extension the city) might be otherwise. By happy accident, we'd found a sign on The Island that neatly illustrated this point...
Then it was upstairs to the attic of One Thoresby Street, where Surfacing played a specially commissioned piece of music, accompanying film footage shot on The Island by Wasteland Twinning Nottingham. Surfacing's performance was inspired by visits to The Island and performed in part on instruments made from scrap material that had been dumped there. It also drew upon Eduard Artemiev's soundtrack to Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker. The performance was recorded and videod. For now, here's the video - apologies for the distorted sound (though we quite like it!). A recording will be available soon.
The evening was rounded off with a screening of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. We've long been struck by the similarities in the landscape of 'the zone' in which the film is set and The Island site, as well as the strange atemporality in which both sites seem to be suspended (as touched upon in an earlier blog entry). Hot food and drink was served, and a good number of people stayed to watch the whole film. Which, should you wish - you can too, courtesy of Mosfilm on Youtube.
Wasteland Twinning Nottingham would like to thank all of those who came, One Thoresby Street for their support, and in particular Chris Matthews for his enthusiasm and generosity. We're now looking forward to our next event: Wasteland Rounders.