A Place For Words: Snug and Outdoor

What happened?

Snug and Outdoor are artists who design dynamic and imaginative playgrounds. They regularly work with poet, Chris Meade, as part of their consultation process. Chris works with groups of young people to create group poems that explore their ideas about play. Instead of asking, what do you want in your playground, and getting the answer, ‘swings, a slide and a roundabout’, Chris investigates their concepts of safety, excitement, etc. and teases out their emotional responses to place. Chris works with the children to create a joint poem that is presented to the project designers, who then find ways to physically respond to these emotional responses to place. The results are hugely exciting, dynamic playgrounds.

Snug and Outdoor used a similar consultative process in a public art project, Hackney Hotlinks, which explored the relationship people living, working or visiting Mare Street in Hackney had with that place and what their aspirations and hopes were for a regenerated Mare Street. Using writing workshops, spontaneous conversations and a temporary installation of visual and sound projection, the artists were able to get past the negative and the everyday and start really exploring the relationship between people and place. Hattie Coppard, Director of Snug and Outdoor is adamant about the benefits of creative consultation. It’s about exploring imagination, not gripes, she says. It’s about getting people to express something they haven't imagined yet.

What made it work?

  • An approach that enables people to creatively imagine a place they've never seen before; which guides them to explore their emotional response to a place, rather than generating a surface level, practical response.
  • The creation of group-written poems meant there was something tangible and transportable to take to designers, funders and decision makers that captured the essence of the possibilities of a place

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