WALK THIS WAY

WALK THIS WAY.

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think. It was not directing me to go in the direction of anything specific, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. I walked to the left as the sign directed and I found myself with a low wall to my left and stacks of fishing nets to my right, beyond the wall was a small river and to right of the nets was the boat filled harbour. It was a pleasant little detour and enjoyed peering over the wall at the water below and photographing the twists and turns in the nets.  I walked until I reached the point at which the water that had been on either side of me met and I discovered I was at a dead end. I guess I could have jumped in the water, I do like swimming, but on this occasion I decided that the best option was to turn around and come back.

Upon returning past the sign and subsequently walking in the opposite direction to the arrow, I began to question the intentions of the original sign maker/hanger/instigator. I began to wonder whether they had hoped to encourage people to take the time to walk up this underused path at the harbour, or had simply hoped to discourage people from walking a different route. I questioned what people would do if the sign did not exist and whether it was a positive or negative addition to the space. I didn’t come to any particular conclusions, as this questioning happened in the space of a few seconds inside my head before I was distracted by the waft of fresh fish and chips.

I am constantly curious about the number of words that exist in our built environment. A number of these words come in the form of signage, but signs don’t need to be formal structures. In fact, I often wonder if people are so used to the formal qualities of official signs that they become rather blind to them, that or they subconsciously submit to them. I saw a lot of signs when I was walking around New York earlier this year and yet these words ‘NO LOITERING’ that were chalked into a stairway were the ones that stood out to me. Perhaps they stood out, as at the exact moment I spotted them I must have been loitering in some way and they caught me in the act as I turned to look directly at them. It was as if these words had preempted that the spot in front of their appartment was the one that I would take to rest for a minute after walking for hours.

I guess that is what most signs do, they run through possible scenarios for a specific place or space and then they try to guide people in what is deemed as the best way to navigate. I think most signs have good intentions, and sometimes signs in the form of identification and navigation are definitely necessary.

However, sometimes it is also nice to decide for yourself which way to walk, as it can make the simplest journeys in life seem just a little bit more like an adventure.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

New York in the Snow

All of the days were cold on my recent trip. The air was fresh, but the skies were blue and the sun shone brightly.

Apart from one day in New York, when the sky turned white and drop upon drop of snow fell down in a flurry of activity that ceased to stop for a moment or run out of energy for an entire day. The falling snow added a new sense of time to the streets, as it fell in fast flurries yet it slowed everything down. Cars ceased speeding and instead started to crawl. As the snow fell it nipped at my cheeks and forced me to pull my scarf up to cover my nose and my hood down to my loom over my eyes. As I breathed into my scarf, my glasses started to steam up on the inside as the snow made wet droplets on the outside. The snow storm blurred my vision and transformed the city in one swift movement.

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The next day I woke up to blue skies again, I woke up to cold air again, but everything otherwise looked different. Benches were draped in sparkly white blankets and you suddenly had new choices to consider when walking down the street – opt for the cleared walkway or delve into the untouched snowy section of the pavement.

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You suddenly found snow hiding in unexpected places, hiding from the bright sun in an effort to stay crisp on these cold days.

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You found iced up lakes in Central Park and snowballs sitting atop it it proudly.

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The cold meant putting on layer upon layer of clothing was a necessity. The cold meant I learned not to trust my visual weather barometer, as the blue skies were deceiving and on the few occasions I opted for less layers I quickly came to regret it. As real cold has a way of setting in when you are walking around the city for hours. The fresh air has a way hitting bare flesh quickly and sharply. The fresh air has a way of navigating in between the creases of your clothing just to quickly and sharply hit any bare flesh it finds. The fresh air has a way of knocking the warm air out of you. It can make you gasp at its ability to make such an impact.

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I found the only good solution too the cold was multiple layers and silly hats. Layers of merino wool, layers of soft fleece, layers of down filled coats, layers of bubbly wool scarves, layers of long socks… that carefully overlapped to ensure that I was wrapped up tighter than a perfectly crafted parcel. Sometimes, it is actually quite nice that it is so cold that you get to put all of these layers on. There is a real sense of satisfaction that you can attain by wrapping yourself up in such a manner. As the cold wind snapped and I pulled my hood up, its furry edge blocked my field of vision so I had to focus on what was in the smaller than usual viewing space, or I had to purposefully turn my head if I wanted to look at something or speak to someone. The cold meant I also had a reason to sample a good selection of hot chocolate. It was a real treat to see New York in the snow.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

PARKing Day in Dundee 2013

Can a parking space in a city really only be used by a car? A good question to consider. If you pay the parking meter – can you just take over the space?

In San Francisco in 2005 Rebar Studio set up a single parking space as a park for a day. This has now evolved into a global movement – PARK(ing) Day – where thousands of artists, activists, designers and citizens temporarily transform city parking spaces to show how ordinary public spaces can easily be re-imagined. On the 20th September 2013 Dundee joined a host of cities worldwide in a celebration of the city space, when students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design designed a number of installations for PARK(ing) Day. So carry on reading to explore the fun areas that popped up in Dundee.

Parking day, dundee, 2013, scotland, city, spaces, design,

Play Don’t Park crafted a space for people to play! Their motivational signage ‘PLAY’ was salvaged from a recently closed swimming pool and their installation of play cubes were covered in colourful doodles & drawings from the days visitors. Continue reading “PARKing Day in Dundee 2013”