Working again with neon letters as my previous installations such as Words of Resilience and Fierce Love. I created an installation in collaboration with the poet laureate Simon Armitage.
The Sunset Neon artwork features a line from a poem by Simon Armitage commissioned as part of a High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project funded by Historic England and Barnsley Council. The commission helped transform an alley connecting Eldon Street and the new Glassworks Square, with Mandela Gardens and the Civic Art Centre. The alley suffered from anti-social behaviour due to having low levels of light and had become a no-go area.
The words that light up the alleyway ‘Sunset totters down Eldon Street trailing its wedding dress’ are taken from the poem and consider the street as a party street, after the fun starts to fade.
The words are also influenced by Eldon Street’s history, from Harral’s Ring Shop where generations of Barnsley couples bought their engagement and wedding rings, to the ‘Bunny Run’ – which often started on Eldon Street, next to the station – when crowds of revellers went out after work on a Friday night, moving from pub to pub around the town centre.
“The location seems perfect to me. You have to seek it out a little bit. I think we are opening up a connecting space between the square on one side and Eldon Street on the other, and bringing some imaginative life to a place that has become a bit derelict and a bit sad. I also think there should be an element of surprise in collaboration for the artists. So, I provided the words. There was some discussion about the site, some discussion about the colour, but then I was just happy for the rest of it to take place and to come along and be wowed by it – and I was.” said Simon.
In creating this artwork, the intention was twofold; use the benefits of the light being emitted to help transform the surrounding place and work with Simon’s words to create a work of art that would surprise people with its meaning and location. Helping turn an anti-social place, where people used to be afraid to go, into somewhere vibrant. Since the neon has been installed more people are using the arcade.