Visual Arts Plymouth
Civic Square – Commit this to Memory Jessica Wright
Plymouth – The planned city. The modernist design, post-war living, buildings here and there that outlasted the Blitz and, later, the designs of Plymouth City Council. As new development sprang up in and around the destruction of historic areas, a few buildings of note survived unscathed. They’re an important part of the social history of our city: a lot remain in living memory, but the stories within their walls need to be told. Plymouth artist Jessica Wright has created the ‘Commit This To Memory’ project to share memories of the city’s buildings currently on Heritage England’s register of buildings at risk.
Wright brings together Instagram photos, stickers and QR codes around at risk buildings, the hashtag #CTTMplymouth and official information to collate a social memory online. She asks “can we spend money making do and mending these buildings instead of seemingly senselessly demolishing them? I think that sometimes their local, historic and social value goes unnoticed day to day.” Each building has a dedicated page on her website with its history, current status, information from the most recent Buildings at Risk register, reasons for classification as ‘at risk’ and plans for the future.
‘Reel Cinema – Commit this to Memory
Oddfellows hall – Commit this to Memory Jessica Wright
There are upwards of 20 historic sites around Plymouth listed in the Commit This To Memory project, and Wright hopes that all will inspire some kind of community response. She gives the example of maybe the city’s best known at risk building – The New Palace Theatre – as an example. As well as being a fine example of Victorian theatre architecture, it was once managed by an Argyle player, played host to stars such as Lillie Langtry, Charlie Chaplin and Morecambe and Wise, and was an important part of the UK club scene as the hugely popular Dance Academy when nights featured Judge Jules, Sasha and Dave Pearce. Since being forced to close in May 2006 for drugs offences, this historic building has been left uninhabited and unused. Several abortive restoration projects have, so far, come to nothing.
To contribute to Commit This To Memory, check out the Twitter #CTTMplymouth and Instagram @cttmplymouth for information on all the buildings. Take photos there, scan the QR codes and discover more online. You can also share your ideas, memories and reponses with everyone online – a retrospective collection will be put together from all the contributions and posted after the Plymouth Art Weekender. At the crossroads of social media, community initiatives, storytelling and visual art, Commit This To Memory is pushing the boundaries of contemporary art.