The Signs Are All There…

We have just started work on another Re-Dock project involving the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Building on the work we did for  Canal &, we are using the memories and ideas gathered as a starting point for a signage installation next to the new Pennington Road bridge.

Constellation Of Signs‘ will be made of over 100 aluminium road and tourist information signs with custom designs based on ideas about the canal. We are running workshops with local groups to help us develop these designs and in doing so explore further how people relate to the canal.

Some of the signs developed in our first workshop this week were warning signs for dirty water and sharks, prohibitive signs for swimming and teachers, and direction signs for ice-cream and the graffiti wall.

It is a really great project to be developing as again it is about the inherent value of ideas and experiences, and their relationship to each other. We are not promising that these things will happen at all, but simply making spaces for a creative and imaginative ownership of the canal.

Ideas in themselves have value. Once someone suggests an idea we can discuss the practical implications of that idea, we can discuss it in relation to community, law, aesthetics, history, possibility, technology. If something can’t happen, then we can ask ‘why not?’ and open up a new area of investigation.

Signs function to shape our understanding of a space. They give us an orientation and also permit levels and modes of engagement with the space. This has a potent impact beyond the immediate message. When I was growing up we used to play footy on a patch of grass near us. One day a window got broken, and the following week a ‘No Ball Games’ sign was put up in what used to be the goal. Aside from the practical obstruction, the space became pretty much unused for play at all, as if sulking after a telling off – it was as if the sign had just said ‘No!’. What if there had been other signs to frame that message and our interpretation of it?

The signs in Constellations Of Signs will act as markers and totems of peoples’ impressions of a place. It will represent their willingness to let their imagination briefly reclaim the canal for the sake of letting the imagination wander. They will be fossilised harbingers of events that may never actually happen, or uncanny indications of things to come. They will mark previous histories and current concerns in relation to irreverence and humour. They will illustrate what people want and what people fear. They will be the evolving dictation of a cross community conversation about what if? and why not? And they will tell you how to get to Bootle Strand Shopping Centre.

You can see more about the project at –

www.constellationofsigns.wordpress.com

Leave a Reply