This project, commissioned by Historic England, is a collaboration between Katy Hawkins, creative producer and evaluator, and myself, Ellie Shipman, participatory artist and designer. Our project Public Announcements (working title) aims to bring to light the hidden community-led activity, local heritage and shared histories of two Heritage Action Zones (aka HAZs) through larger-than-life playful, thought-provoking and creative public signage co-designed with residents.
This signage will consist of road safety LED signs (see illustration), reprogrammed to show community-written messages collated through creative workshops, as well as freestanding wooden words derived from local fonts and the high streets' aesthetics. Learning from the project will be developed into a shareable pack and delivered in live sharing sessions for others to benefit from.
Throughout this year high streets across England have been further impacted with COVID restrictions, compounding existing challenges for retailers known as ‘the death of the high street’ as shoppers prioritise online purchasing and even large chain stores go out of business (The Guardian, 2019). We know high streets are more than retail however (Historic England, 2020) - they provide sites for informal meetings, for exchange, for experiences to unfold and local pride to build. They are sites of heritage, stories, community, architecture and place. This project aims to put this hidden infrastructure to the fore, prompting new interpretations of high streets from the communities who know them best.
The signage artworks will be installed as an outdoor exhibition in Summer 2021.
To get involved in the project or to find out more do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org