Walking through Newport City yesterday it occurred to me that right now most of it is a building site.
From the construction of brand-spanking-new gigantic neo-blue-metaplastic office blocks, to the moving of bus stations to the destruction of what once was.
I don't know much behind the finances of it all, but I hear people muttering things like "Murmer, murmer... 9 million" and "Grumble, grumble... Council don't know their arse from the elbow" etc. If you know more of what I speak then please do feel free to start a discussion on the comments section of this blog.
It saddened me slightly to think we have empty office blocks with new ones being built. We have beautiful antique buildings cluttered with dust and cracks and damp, yet for some reason a reasonable solution seems to be; endorse a "Build More, Build Bigger, Build Better" ethos. Which would (I suppose) be fine, if we, the people who need space, could be granted access to just 10sq meters of the acres that lay dormant. Surely life inside a building is better than dust, regardless of the swollen uddered cash cow that hasn't had available hands to milk it in years.
URBAN/Pumfords was such a space. To me the ethos of it all could have used some slight re-adjustment, but when it all began with The Empty Shops Project, Newport had a new lease of life. We met some incredible people, joined new artistic networks, formed new artistic networks, we connected, not only as artists but as artist and community. It hosted events, opened temporary galleries, housed dragons, put on shows, made music, ran community workshops, enriched (albeit a small) percentage of Newport's population and it held 'The Meeting' of all meetings.
It allowed all of us to make art-hay while the free space sun shined.
And now it's gone, not just in spirit, but literally. Part of the scrap yard that is currently Newport is the old URBAN/Pumfords.
It's a sad old day as this block is demolished to make way for Super-Mega-Mall, but it's not the bricks and mortar of the building that will be missed, it's the ethos, the memories and the opportunities it gave so many people, so generously. The emphasis has slid, slipped, been slunk away right under our noses.
This may seem like quite a Negative blog, but it's not. I've set up a Facebook called: Urban : Rest In Pieces
It would be amazing to see as many people as possible sharing on this space. A lot happened here in it's brief history.
It is a digital space to discuss what once was URBAN/Pumfords/Empty Shops Proj/Free Arts Space in Newport.
It should act as an homage to it's impact, a share-space for stories, photographs and memories, a place to reflect on the buildings/schemes usefulness and heritage.
It can then also act as documentation of why free space for artists is vital for supporting and nurturing the cultural growth of Newport.
Q: How did it enhance and facilitate our practices, how did it aid us in the creation of our work and what impact did it have, subsequently, on Newport.
Rest In Pieces Urban
As always, share, like, comment on this blog, and please join Urban : Rest In Pieces if you have anything to share.