New Visuality – creative young people’s ideas for a future Clifford’s Tower

My Castle Gateway has always been keen to work with neighbours of the development area, so we got into conversation with Greg McGee of According To McGee on Tower Street. Greg had been working with a group of young people, taking an irreverent look at the city’s heritage and posing alternative futures. We suggested they looked specifically at the Castle Gateway area and out of this came a one-day visual project which will feed into work by a professional artist and an exhibition at the gallery opening on 18th August.

Artist Arran Leith has created a photomontage based on the ideas of the young people:-

New Visuality’s Clifford’s Tower area has:

* a Cable Car to continue York’s ‘Transport Revolution’ the young artists researched, focusing especially on the recent comments made by Councillor Dave Taylor. Traffic around the Tower and parking anywhere in York city centre is a nightmare. This is a radical and achievable alternative.

* Log Flume. Our young artists were very keen on the idea of fun, colour and activity commemorating the area’s darker history. “The young artists were very clear on this. Dark times don’t always have to be respected through dark monoliths,” says artist Arran Leith, “Fun is simply a more effective celebration of loved ones than hushed, sombre awe, which sometimes has the effect of paralysing discussion on what actually happened.”

* Wheel Chair Access: “It’s only through innovation that we can truly harness inclusivity,” says Arran, “Wheel Chair and Disability access is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussion of full access to heritage sites. If it’s going to take discreet escalators alongside existing staircases or radical wheel chair friendly Cable Cars, then that’s what we’ll have to think about. The young people’s ideas were great, and I hope my response does them justice.”

* Gondoliers in the Moat: “There’s a disembarking point at the foot of the Tower, with free service for Wheel Chair users. This extends the ideas around York’s ‘Transport Revolution’, with gondoliers and even ferries thrown into the discussion. Obviously the intersection of water vehicles and swimmers from the Log Flume would need a lot of thought – perhaps a separate moat round the back of the Tower for gondoliers? – but I thought it best to include a visual hook in the poster to show that the idea is in the mix.”

…and further images and thoughts from the young people:-

150 Trees: says Immy Metcalfe, “A better way to remember the 150 Jewish people who died at the hand of the mob is to plant 150 trees and drape them with different colour fairy lights, that interact (brightness, flickering) with the movement of passersby. This is not planting trees for trees sake, by the way. This is a way of keeping the memories of those who died at Clifford’s Tower alive in an innovative and interactive way.”

Astro Turf: says Rowan, “It’s much easier to play on Astro Turf. Everything can be synthetic around Clifford’s Tower, with the flowers made from 3D prints, and floodlights bringing out the colours of everything. People can roll around and have fun, it’s easy to clean, and York will look more like Telly Tubby land, which is great!”

Dynamic Underground: says Carter Smith, “I have just come back from Edinburgh. It is a very similar city to York. They make much more of their geology and architecture and they have Dynamic Earth. Sure, we have Jorvik, but there’s no exploration of the Bronze Age or the Celts or even the Tudors. What about a Time Machine, basically a series of escalators under Clifford’s Tower, running through themed areas, with windows looking at different geology.

Flooding Can Be a Good Thing: says Maddie, “I am aware of how serious the heritage of this area is, and this is not supposed to be disrespectful. I simply thought that having fun is an interesting way to commemorate an area. There is no Disney theme here – just good old fashioned playing in the water. I’m not sure if the water should be swimming water or straight from the Ouse or Foss, or where the Cable Car should come from, I just thought as the area floods anyway, and there is no real sense of ‘play’ here, it might be an idea to show respect through simple good vibes rather than a sad stone.”

Virtual Reality: says Tom, “This is basically a chance for the public to put on a VR Headset and experience different characters from York’s history. I have included here Richard I, Septimus Severus, and William the Conqueror, but this could be a bespoke experience, with unlimited characters from different eras from York’s history, to suit the interest of the customer.”

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