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Wrights & Sites is a group of artists whose research is focused on their relationships to places, cities, landscape and walking.

Everything you need to build a town is here

Location: Multiple locations across Weston-super-Mare

Everything you need to build a town is here was not conceived in an artist’s studio,’ suggest the artists, ‘but only really emerged after several months of reconnaissance walking – not only in the obvious places, like the seafront and the town centre – but also in the industrial, post-industrial, residential and edgelands of Weston.’ Through this extensive site research, Wrights & Sites have developed a constellation of 41 signs that each engage with their immediate vicinity and are dispersed across Weston-super-Mare.

Each of the signs refers to aspects of architecture in Weston-super-Mare – whether grand, municipal, amateur, accidental, forgotten, part-demolished or imagined – and contains a carefully worded instruction, observation or comment, designed to encourage the reader to think again about its specific location, to conduct an action or thought experiment.

The signs have been organised into eight interconnecting layers – The Panoptic, Foundations, The Great Architect, The Amateur Builder, The Botanical, Light, Time, Ands – each of which is indicated by a symbol incorporated into the signs. The locations are widely scattered from public gardens, to the museum, car parks, restaurants and allotments. The design of the signs has been influenced by an existing sign found in Uphill village, at the southern edge of Weston-super-Mare, and almost all will appear in a location without interpretation or explanation. The artists describe how the Old Town Quarry operates as a keystone site for the series, at the entrance to which visitors are able to locate a map and description of the project in its entirety.

The content of the signs contrasts markedly with the functional design of a conventional proclamation or historical blue plaque in that it may draw your attention to the overlooked, the unremarkable or hint at an action which would divert the reader from their everyday activity.

At the public library, you are instructed to ‘... SEEK OUT MASTER PLANS THAT NEVER MADE IT PAST THE DRAWING BOARD.’

At The Cliffs Tea Rooms, children will delight in being asked to ‘PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. CONSTRUCT ARCHITECTURES INSPIRED BY THE SEA’S APPETITE FOR THE LAND.’

At the Cardiff Bay Barrage, ‘PERHAPS YOU CAN SEE WESTON-SUPER-MARE TEN MILES TO THE SOUTH-EAST. A CENTURY AGO YOU COULD HAVE CAUGHT A WHITE FUNNEL FLEET STEAMER TO WESTON’S BIRNBECK PIER TO VISIT THE THEATRE OF WONDERS, THE FLYING MACHINE OR THE BIOSCOPE. FORGET PLANS FOR THE CARDIFF-WESTON BARRAGE. WALK ON WATER INSTEAD.’

Everything you need to build a town is here challenges the assertion of regeneration to improve upon or to replace what is already in existence. Wrights & Sites lead the visitor and resident to unexpected places and indicate through modest means the layering of historical and contemporary stories and associations around us, from Weston’s famed architect Hans Price to the shadow sandcastle formed by the Grand Atlantic Hotel on the beach at dawn.. The signs accumulate through their dispersal to form a highly ambitious call to public imagination which may entirely remake our vision of Weston-super-Mare.

Wrights & Sites

Wrights & Sites are Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner. Formed in the UK in 1997, they live and work in Exeter, UK. They explore and celebrate space and place through site-based practices. These include Mis-Guided tours and Mis-Guide books, public presentations and articles, and ‘drifts’, which can best be described as exploratory, undirected wanderings that function as a kind of fieldwork in their practice. Through their extensive research, which often involves walking and talking with residents, their work taps into different layers or strata of a place, peeling back the surface to reveal hidden or obscured aspects of a location or situation.

www.mis-guide.com

 

With thanks to:

Chris Baker, The Civic Society
Oliver Bliss, Weston-super-Mare Football Club
G.M. Board, The Old Kings Head
Zeha Canniford
Devon & Exeter Institution
Joanne Green, Walliscote Primary School
Nick Goff, North Somerset Museum
Rebecca Ireland, The Church Conservation Trust
Graham Isaac, The Corner House
The Reverend Mr Everton Mc Leod, Uphill Church
Mohammed Miah, Delhi Lounge
Lee Mills, The Helicopter Museum
Andy Morris, DM Foundry
Clare Morris, Coco Browns
North Somerset Studies Library
Polimekanos
Martin Saunders, The Cliffs Tearooms
Martin Taylor, The Civic Society
Roger Thorne, Cardiff City Council (Cardiff Bay Barrage)
Colin & Shirley Watts
University of Exeter
University of Plymouth
University College Falmouth