Exiting the Gasholder
First public event of the Constellations programme; a 10 month research & development residency with 7 other artists investigating social-political issues, collaboration and activating public space.
Drawing on the history of the gasholder sites in King’s Cross, we presented a series of participatory activities that explored ideas related to public /private space. Built in the 1850s, Gasholder No. 8 formed part of Pancras Gasworks, one of the largest gasworks sites in Britain. Reflecting on its transition, from iconic 19th Century industrial structure to residential leisure site with landmark status, the event invited audiences to consider and engage with a location (and it’s surroundings) that is simultaneously public and private.
A text-based artwork using the form of a planning notice directed participants to walk from the Gasholder Park (a privately owned public space managed by Argent) to The Cock Tavern, a social, private-public space with a strong history of inclusivity and supporting radical/social groups. Participants were guided by a map which outlined the bylaws and ownership of the spaces traversed in the 15 minute walk from Gasholder to Cock Tavern, which allowed participants to reflect on : who owns the city and who is policing who? What permissions does one have in (private/public) space, and are we aware of the (often) subtle systems of control that manage our behaviour in cities? At the Cock Tavern, we used our budget from ArtNight to buy participants a pint and chat about our memories of being in public in a relaxed, social setting. The intervention encouraged a dialogue on permission, tolerance and publicness, and allowed us to begin creating an oral history of memories of what it means to ‘be in public’.