H.C. Atkinson, builders merchants are no more. Well they probably haven’t been up to much for a while judging by the state of their building. Clearly they were once prosperous but I doubt if they imagined that the sign would last longer than the business. The buildings three loading doors and the ornate pulley bracket are testament to there previous sucess.
Signs for forgotten businesses, be they carved into the building’s fabric or simply painted on a brick wall are part of the history of a city. They tell of economic success and failure, changing life styles and the nomadic nature of supply and demand. They can be fascinating. Often described as ghost signs the phenomenon is well supported on the web.
Another area that I have been able to find out less about, probably because I have no idea how to frame it as a search term, is something we come across occasionally. It’s the scars or traces of a buildings interiors left when the adjacent building has been removed. I have passed the example below many times over the last few years but I finally stopped to get a closer look the other day. The doors, unlike those in the example above were intended to lead out onto floors in the now missing building. A bit like the old road runner cartoons you can just imagine someone stepping through the door, pausing, and then falling once they realised that they were standing on thin air.
Another example is pictured below, the scars of the old staircases and traces of the hallway paint are left exposed. All that’s missing is a stencil of a confused Dalek on one of the Landings. We will keep our eye out for other examples of this vertical archeology and post any of interest.
Sometimes it’s good to get out of the city and take a stroll in the country. This is especially true when you come across an oddity like the fallen tree trunks on the Bolton Abby trail. They have been covered with coins hammered into their bark and then bent over. The theory is that they are ‘wishing trees’ similar in concept to a wishing well.
There are a number of them at this site and there are reports of other examples throughout Yorkshire and some in Scotland. From a practical point of view the process ensures that the coins remain in place and over the years this has created a very interesting aesthetic. The coins follow the original grain pattern of the wood creating a piece of accidental art. Perhaps it could be entitled ‘Serendipity’.
Blank Bill boards? I wonder if this is an indication that the economic climate is impacting on outdoor advertising budgets, or in fact it is a clever marketing ploy using constructivist theory to encourage us to imagine our own adverts?
I watched the wonderful documentary ‘Man on a wire’ the other day. This story of Frenchman Philippe Petit’s determined effort to tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in New York was incredibly powerful. During 1974 he plotted and planned until he was able to rig his wire between the tops of the Twin Towers. He then spent over an hour practising his art of wire-walking.
Apart from the jaw dropping visual aspects of this film one of the other things that struck me was Philippe’s reaction to the questions posed by the American Journalists. He couldn’t understand that the only question that they asked was, ”Why had he done it?” For him, the beauty of the act was justification itself. This is a typical Gaelic reaction but it reminded me of the dilemma that we face in this country when we begin to look into the subject of public art.
In this country we seem to be culturally programmed to react negatively to public art, particularly when it doesn’t conform to our perception of how it should look. We might, as with the new tribute to the Queen Mother, readily accept a public monument. The key to this acceptance however seems to be based upon some simple reference points. It must be easily recognisable, accurately rendered, and show an obvious level of artist skill.
Playground folklore always suggests that bike sheds are ‘multi functional’ public spaces. Far from being a simple store for teenage transport they are often represented as a centre for experimentation, and the building of illicit experience. Judging by this image, the social interaction is much more akin to an old fashioned school disco, with at least four bike stands acting as chaperon. The body language also suggests that there is only one person in charge of this situation. Sitting with a certain amount of elegance and comfort on a standard bike stand is quite and achievement.