Here I am in this instance on Tyneside exploring the labyrinthine netherworlds.
One of the great glories of cinema is that it has the power to take the mundane and make it magical. To most of us, car parks signify a world of pain, where fearsome red-and-white crash barriers dictate our fate and where finding a space is often like finding meaning in the collective works of Martin Lawrence. To others, they meant lost Saturday afternoons spent waiting for your mum to finally come out of Woolworths so you could rush home to catch Terrahawks.
Either way, car parks are grey and dull. In the movies, however, they are fantastic places, filled with high-level espionage, and high-octane chases.
According to The Guardian
I beg to differ, the cinema and TV has helped to define our perception and misconception of the car park.
The modern day pedestrian may reclaim, redefine and realise, that far from mundane each actual exemplar is different, in so many ways. The time of day, weather, light, usage, abusage, condition, personal demeanour and mood all shape our experience of this particular, modern urban space.
To walk the wide open spaces of the upper tier, almost touching the sky.
Is a far cry from the constrained space of the lower levels.
To walk the ramps with a degree of trepidation, visceral and fun.
This is an inversion of the car-centric culture, walking the concrete kingdom with a carbon-free footprint.
I was inspired by a recent viewing of All The Presidents Men to revisit my local multi-storey on Heaton Lane Stockport.
Cinematographer Gordon Hugh Willis Jr constructs a shadow world where informer and informed meet to exchange deep secrets, ever watchful, moving in and out of artificial light, tense and alert.
Look over your shoulder- there’s nobody there, and they’re watching you.
But they have been here.
Pay here, your time is time limited, your presence measured.
Let’s explore this demimonde together, wet underfoot, lit laterally by limited daylight, walking through the interspersed pools of glacial artificial glow.
Time’s up, check out and move on – tomorrow is another day, another car park; in a different town.
Cinema and car parks wedded forever in the collective popular cultural unconscious.
Of course I’ve been here before – and you may have as well.
And I’ve been to Huyton too.
Tony Holloway’s work also illuminates the windows of Manchester Cathedral.
As well as the panels of the Faraday Tower, just the other side of UMIST.
The wall is listed, fenced and obscured by the gradual incursion of assorted greenery.
It’s beginning to attract moss, amongst other things – just not like a rolling stone.
Like nearly everything else, it looks different each time you pass by, more or less light, new tags and signs – so here it is as of Saturday 13th June 2020.
Locked in during the lockdown.
All that is solid melts into air as Marx and Marshall Berman told us.
Though remnants remain – this is a short journey through a hole in fence, down into the warren of power station offices past.
They have been stripped of their former use and meaning, transformed into a transitory art performance space, paint and plaster now peeling, appealing to the passing painter, partially reclaimed by nature.
Let’s tag along:
Obviously, stating the obvious in Comic Sans on a shocking pink ground may ease the pain of industrial decline and its attendant social and economic ills.
Sheffield along with the majority of British manufacturing towns and cities, has seen the wealth created by over a century of hard labour spirited elsewhere, and the means by which that wealth was created shipped overseas or overwritten by new technologies.
This has not been an accident or unfortunate consequence of global trends, it has been government policy.
It has not been government policy to regenerate these towns and cities.
So Sheffield has taken the initiative to become – The fastest growing British city outside London.
With areas of new and arresting development.
Though that may do little to redress the structural economic divides within the city.
So I walked the avenues and alleyways of the Lower Don Valley, early on an October Sunday morning, mourning the passing of the clang and clamour that once fuelled the city and the nation.
An aroma of engine oil and the sound of metal on metal still permeates the area, and the low autumnal sun warms the long straight streets.
I’ve been here before.
In and out of the underpass from shore to mighty sea.
I’ve come back again, fascinated by the barely illuminated utilitarian infrastructure that seems so rarely used, alone in world of my own.
Take a closer walk and look with me.
The light at the end the tunnel is another tunnel.