This weekend I have mostly been a-wolf-hunting… following the #BuryWolfTrail in my home town of Bury St. Edmunds. The Wolf Trail is a town trade and tourism effort to encourage visitors and support businesses in the town over the summer. I had planned to write a blog overviewing it, upload all my photos etc… but the more I thought about the more I realised I’d had such a positive emotional experience from this project because of tiny details that a review wouldn’t capture.
I’ve longed worked with graphics, CAD and design and have some arty leanings but I rarely work or interact with the world without a computer, network or similar involved. Really good art and architecture interacts with people and its surroundings. Often it’s not an object itself but its placement, the way it interacts with the space and other objects around it and those thoughts, memories and questions it provokes in the viewer and those sharing the space.
I haven’t finished the wolf trail and still have wolves to find but I felt moved enough to need to put fingers to keyboard and capture what it meant to me and how it changed the way I felt about the town around me and how it changed how I observed it…. but perhaps just a wolf at a time…
The Mosaic Wolf
This isn’t typical of the wolves on the trail, the majority are 3D and this one is 2D. It’s also mounted on a wall rather than free standing. This wolf is located in the rather grandly-titled Hanchet Square, which is located behind the town’s modern “Arc” shopping centre. When I googled for a picture or link to Hanchet Square I only found this “Public toilet facilities within arc are located just off Hanchet Square, Walk in between New Look and Debenhams to access them.” That pretty much does sum up the location, Hatchett Square is a bleak little modern access area, tucked behind the shopping centre, a place delivery lorries can load, a cut through from Waitrose car-park. A barren, modern space there for functionality, not a public space or garden you’d actively seek out or rank as a favourite.
On a hot, dry August day, in brilliant sunshine with bright blue skies, the lack of shade or vegetation in this man made void emphasised this was not a place one would choose to actively seek out, in a town full of better spaces and gardens. The modern brickwork not yet much weathered by age in the few years since built was as soulless as when the developers’ contractors had left it. The wolf hung on the one wall that offered a little shade in the midday heat, opposite the public toilets, with a hot and bother father and son (with shopping weary scowls) slunk up close to the wall waiting while mum changed the baby in the toilets.
Against the crisp modern orange brick and the beige stone of the rest of the square, the wolf made of tiny blue, white and gold glass tiles broke the desert. The cold, hard, permanence of the glass was solid, this could last a 1000 years, sun, wind and rain will not dull the cobalt blue. The gold glittered ethereally, like nothing from nature can, this was from the hand-of-man. The blue seemed to connect with the brilliant almost unbearably blue midday sky and pounding sun, like a vertical teleport, gold-blue-gold-gold-blue…. Both sky and the wolf almost too bright for the eye…. The dry, enclosed, closeness of the little square, both emphasised and yet broken by this strange vertical connection.
I heard a memory whisper Urban… and had a flashback to long forgotten Latin classes. I hadn’t forgotten the word Urban came from the Latin for town, I simply hadn’t remembered it. Most of the Cambridge Latin Series Textbooks rushed between my ears…. The arid, flat brickwork against the blue sky could have been in any Roman town pounded by the sun 2000 years ago, a civic space designed for functionality
- Cerberus: Caecilius est in horto. Caecilius in horto sedet. servus est in atrio. servus in atrio laborat.
Pompeii and Bury St. Edmunds merged in the midday sun and my mind. People shopping, the town planner his thoughts access and the public latrines and sanitation, so little changed. A small mosaic, man-made, emphasising the Urban, a place conquered by man, with real wolves banished to the forests.
The #WolfTrail YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZNePm9_hA&feature=youtu.be
The Wolf Trail Website: http://www.ourburystedmunds.com/wolftrail