Coronavirus has us all on lockdown now and just this week the chocolate shop I work in has shut. This means being stuck at home and now on pretty much complete lockdown.
When the task in hand is all about your local area, it makes it pretty difficult not being able to go out and about!
In my last day in the shop, I decided to make the most of my time around the public. I asked the majority of people I served what the first word that came to mind about York was. I received a mixture of emotional responses and descriptions of the City. Most people were pretty emotional with the upcoming lockdown knowing it’d be a while before they came back into the City they love.
My list was as follows:
- Ey Up!
- Street names
This was quite a combination of words and it’s taken me a long time to work through the responses and wonder how I could respresent one of these words or emotions in a different medium.
The first thing for me was chocolate – it’s warm, welcoming, cosy and york is full of it. The streets almost always smell of chocolate and there are so many different chocolate shops (one of which I work in) and even a Chocolate museum. Rowntrees, Terrys etc all originiated here and contributed to the growth of York as a fantastic Victorian production city. The many terraced, cobbled streets were built near the factories for all the workers. the backbone of this city is chocolate. Could I somehow incorporate chocolate into my design here but which word would I use – warmth? home? cosy?
Does it also represent the way I think about York – one of the words mentioned to me during my research was multicultural. Currently, I find this extremely ironic as there is a growing racism towards Asians currently due to this virus spreading. Hearing Trump calling it the China Virus is heartbreaking because suddenly, York (which has a large Asian population), has very few. I usually serve so many Chinese customers in my store but there have been weeks where I’ve seen none – China has such a rich and incredible history and culture. To blame this country on the spread of this virus is modern day racism in itself.
I posted this onto the ideas wall because I needed to see if this is happening elsewhere. Mandy responded saying she’s noticed an increase in racism towards the Asian communities where she is too. Our city is proud to be home to a large Chinese population and the growth this culture has given to the city is amazing. Why are we letting this virus get in the way of our usual welcoming, Yorkshire spirit.
I had a sudden flash of inspiration that I could use a number of the words I have collected during my research to bounce off one another.
Multicultural – again, the irony of someone using this word to describe this city whilst there are such strong undertones of racism. Even as the person said it to me it made me think straight away – this has to be a good word to use if I had an immediate reaction to it.
Welcoming – as above, the lack of empathy and care towards this community we’ve allowed to just leave without considering how they must be feeling. About their families, the cities they are from, the fear they must be feeling. Why are we not considering these feelings and why are we not welcoming this community back with open arms? You just have to look at the local paper and the comments made by the community to realise the strong racist feelings towards this community. Especially as we were the first city in the UK to report a case of the virus. Some of the words and expressions used are so strong and almost painful to read.
Cobbled – to me, the cobble streets of York are welcoming, warm and make me feel at home. It’s such a huge part of the city – cobbles are used so often to reflect York’s history. For me, there is nothing else I could have used to represent the words I want to convey. They are walked on every single day, they hold so much history, emotions, and thousands of feet have passed over these cobbles over the years.
Ok – we had our weekly webinar and I had nothing to show. This was the first week this had happened and I was so frustrated at my lack of ideas and inspiration.
I sent the following Mood Board to Sarah for feedback in the webinar:
For me, all these pieces are powerful uses of the ground and bricks / cobbles. To use the bricks as the “paper” for the words could really portray the meaning.
Anika mentioned that to her, bricks/cobbles don’t immediately represent warmth and familiarity but cold, hard objects. How can I portray the cobbles or bricks as something warm and homely? I think that would be too tricky and difficult and leaves it down to someone elses opinion.
So let’s scrap using the cobbles as the ‘warm welcoming streets of York’. Of course what I’m trying to portray here is that York is not actually welcoming at all.
So how about using the Walls of York – this city is famous for it’s intact walls surrounding the city. I recently dug these bricks up from my garden, washed them down and I really want to use them in this project. Seeing as we’re on lockdown there’s not much I can go out and get so let’s be resourceful here!!
Ok – so I know I can build a wall to be the background for my words. My next task is to create a collage of the different words / phrases used in the local newspaper which represent the feelings and thoughts of the locals about this awful virus.
Update following group discussion:
Unfortunately this week was not going my way – I set up my wall of bricks and cobbles and my projector with my text creation…
Only to find the projector wasn’t working properly and the writing couldn’t be read clearly at all – the polar opposite of the meaning of this week’s work.
You can find an example video of my projector attempt here:
I’ve had to settle with a design that I’m not 100% finished with and know it needs more development:
When I have the ability to go out and get a new projector I’ll definitely set this up again and make the necessary changes so the wording is clear. I want to use a projector in other projects as it’s a great way of using a base of a certain medium to represent a certain feeling.