What I love about this is that the artwork/installation requires public participation to be activated. Luke Jerram is the thinker behind Exeter’s Street Slide and is well known for his large-scale public engagement artworks. He writes, “This massive urban slide transforms the street and asks people to take a fresh look at the potential of their city and the possibilities for transformation. Imagine if there were permanent slides right across cities?“
The slide is a playful response to the urban landscape and like many of Jerram’s projects the installation requires public participation to be activated, “The person on the slide becomes the performer, while spectators either side watch on. The end result is a set of collective memories and stories that people will pass on.” I’ve walked down Fore Street many times but never imagined I’d ever slide down headfirst on a lilo being cheered on.
As one of my AB colleagues recently wrote in a blog, “Of course bringing contrasts together is a great tool for creatives, a way of disrupting the norm, a way of demanding that people sit up and take notice. I urge all creatives, designers and clients to ‘dare to be brave.” What Exeter’s incongruous urban slide encourages is people to look at their surroundings in a different way and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The 95-metre slide itself was a very simple construction of foam matting, hay bales and a plastic strip; and a combination of water and environmentally friendly washing-up liquid made the lilos slide.
All the money raised by the Exeter Street Slide on Sunday went to the Exeter Deaf Academy, a brilliant charity that runs a School and College providing specialist education and care for deaf young people aged 4 to 24 years old. As a charity, it is not funded in the same way as state schools and therefore requires fundraising support.
My only gripe is that the Exeter organisers did not go for it enough on the day. The idea was brilliant but the execution was a little disappointing. Loud music, water pistols, more encouragement to dress up would have all added to the atmosphere. Saying that I would definitely put my name into the ballot again and I know I was lucky to get in this time, as there was only a 5 to 1 chance of getting a place.
So well done Luke Jerram and Exeter Deaf Academy. The more we play with the norm in our urban landscapes the better.
Author: Ed Burnand
Ed's focus is on strategy and management and he has been responsible for the development of numerous innovative client projects across brand, digital, advertising and film. He inspires confidence and believes that planning and knowledge are critical to producing effective communications. He has over 20 years of client-side and consulting experience in the UK and internationally having worked at Tequila London and Telewest Broadband (now Virgin Media).