process the thinking|orientating|elucidating machine : the process Mapping and mixing, archiving and interpreting, research +imagination [= the future design approach architecture +urbanism] Throughout the process, I have concentrated on the former industrial docks area of Dundee, initially as this is around where I live, but subsequently as a more conscious decision [although it was probably always a subconscious pursuit of personal intrigue] to investigate that part of Dundee which is most significant and influential in the growth and evolution of the city yet is least recognised today. I have come to realise that it is these peripheral areas that hold the key to any future development which could actually means something. The hot topic in Dundee is the waterfront and our relationship to it [or lack of], well it is the docks which have that connection, they always have. I always intended this project to be a starting point for a process that could expand and progress indefinitely, driven by the interpretation and knowledge of others. A process of listening to the stories and memories of those inanimate residents of the city and thus giving meaning to a place as well as meaningful connections between places; meaningful because they come from individual emotions and experiences. Enriching our experience of the city. What I did not so explicitly plan for was that this all would lead me to the starting point of something quite real and exciting, tools for resuscitating Dundee back to life. I always wanted this piece of research to be useful beyond my own gain, the process has loaded me with knowledge and provoked opinion within me; I can look out my window and imagine seeing all that used to be and could be now. Above all, this is an optimistic process and not one of doom. I believe the uncovering of the memories that a place has is the true motivation for meaningful and purposeful architecture.
process tools : -Photopolis [photographic survey by Alexander Wilson, captured Dundee before “much redevelopment in Dundee resulted in elements of the city vanishing forever.”] -Library +Local History Centre -architectural eyes +mind -cameras -sewing machine
the evolution of the thinking [orientating] machine : 1.
in search of memory pockets – to the Law... Inspired by reading about the situationists and their notions of the derive and psychogeography, I went off my very own derive, with the one ambition of walking to the Law, as a newcomer to Dundee, I had no idea what route I would be taking to succeed in this ambition. I intended to use this unpredictable journey to observe ‘pockets of memory’, signs and traces on inanimate objects and use them to articulate possible memories of experiences gone projected by these objects. Simple things like graffiti tags signalling human presence but also questioning why that particular place was chosen [bricked up window in a wall ... a series of events] to roadnames, speaking of a landscape before civilisation. What effect these ‘memories’ have now ... roads with no names, paths|routes no longer accessible. I used photomontages to express the idea of a series of events taking place over time in one spot, and all leaving their mark.
to the Law...
to the Law...
to the Law...
memory catalogue cards 2.
memory catalogue cards By focussing my attention on particular building which grabbed my interest, I undertook a survey through time, based an emotional response to the site and historic research. The building in question was Bell Mill, my next door neighbour and imposing, derelict presence on Dundeeâ€™s skyline. I looked at the Mill in three important eras, as working mill in the 19th century where I came across Mary Slessor the missionary, as a hub for mechanics businesses at the end of the 20th century where I introduced myself to the character of Kenny and the present day, inhabited only by pigeons, including Bill, Bell Mill born and bred. By compiling|curating a memory catalogue, I split my findings and thoughts into key areas, including resident interviews [stories from those experiencing the mill throughout its lifetime], relics [the Clydesdale ÂŁ10
t-shirt pockets note which commemorates Mary’s missionary work in Nigeria] and ‘then +now’ photographs illustrating the evolution of the area I discovered to be called Heaven and Hell. 3.
t shirt pockets The next natural move for me in presenting these pockets of memory I had identified in and around Bell Mill was to create actual pockets to contain the information. I used a child size t-shirt as a ‘base’ for the pockets. This introduced|strengthened the idea of interaction and interpretation involved in other people using the pockets, this experiment resulted in the object having a fun quality and inviting people to explore it. Little discoveries to be made. Onto the outside of the pockets, I transferred pieces of maps of this part of Dundee, to give the pockets some geographical relevance but also highlight the idea that I am deliberating ‘pulling out’ pieces of
t-shirt pockets knowledge and memories which have been hidden over time, in reference to Guy Debordâ€™s psychogeographic maps.
“I don’t want to project my own narrative onto what somebody else is going to look at. I want them to come up with their own narrative... sometimes it’s not the narrative close to what I was thinking... and I’m shocked and disappointed they didn’t get what I was trying to portray. But I realise that’s the double edge of the sword. Of leaving it ambiguous that way.” Cindy Sherman [Sunday Times 12|04|2009]
jute pocket patch
jute pocket patch Everything I produced for Bell Mill was a starting point|prototype for a process of archiving and interpreting that could continue indefinitely, as I expand my experiences of Dundee and go to more places and as more people interact with the pockets, bringing their own set of experiences and emotions. After all, a city is so layered with meaning, it could potentially house millions of memory pockets. In contrast to the t-shirt pockets, which in a way existed as a stand alone object, one pocket actually should contain everything it needed to and have the ability
jute pocket patch
jute pocket patch
to be attached to another pocket for another spot and then to another, and so on. I developed a sort of pocket filing cabinet, which allowed for different types of memory to be stored. For this experiment, I visited St. Andrews, connected to Dundee for many reasons, notably for me, through the Wishart family. As such an overtly historic town, it does not hide its pockets of memory much, even displaying signs of the former uses of ruins and what lead up to what we see now. As I uncovered more about Dundeeâ€™s history, I felt closer to the cityâ€™s success during industrialisation and specifically its reliance on the mills for this. As the process began to involve more sewing, I was interested in using jute as a material, in reference to its singular dominance in Dundeeâ€™s growth.
pocket patchwork quilt 5.
pocket patchwork quilt My attention was by now well and truly grabbed by the former industrial area of Dundee, how it was once the heart of the city and how today it has barely any relationship at all. Through several trips|derives around the old docks area of Dundee, conducting photographic surveys of particular spots and through substantial research at the library, on the internet and in books, I built up a library of information and stories, ready to be housed in a whole quilt of pockets. Using jute and linen as the primary materials, I constructed a series of unique pocket patches [to reflect the uniqueness of each spot]. Within in each pocket, information and stories are presented in all sorts of methods to provoke as much thought and intrigue to continue as possible, methods such as ‘then +now’ photos, which allow the participant to articulate a timeline of events at a single memory pockets and proceed to connect it with others. With the construction of each one, I experimented with different ways of using the concept of a pocket to contain objects, this has created a thinking machine with a sense of adventure, begging to be played with.
“Few dundonians have any real relationship with the river Tay... yet without it the city would not exist ... no jute, no whaling, no world trade.” Taken from the exhibition, ‘River Tay’s Riches’ organised by the Life Group, a project which involves the rehabilitation of those recovering from drug addiction through strengthening a relationship with the city they live in.
dundee map 1832 1820 â€“ first 20 jute bales 1883 â€“ 1 million jute bales
dundee map 1880
dundee docks map 1872
great reform act +report 1832
resident interview Lily Fox; resident of Dundee; World War II Dundee seems an obvious target for the Germans, with its ships used for trade and mills making all the sandbags and the rail bridge too. It’s vulnerable too on the east coast. a lot of the planes we hear overhead are flying towards clydebank apparently. But life isnae so different, i still go tae the pictures with ma maw and siblings. one time there was a bomb on the same road during a film, when we came oot there were bricks and glass all over the road, it had got wan of the tenements. i really hope a bombs dusnae get the docks, the city wouldnae be the same without all those ships masts an the big stone mills an warehouses in the skyline. my favourite day is saturday cos that’s when ma da takes me doon tae the waterfront, it’s full ae folk, exciting like. even though there’s a war on, life dusnae stop on the waterfront.
RAF aerial shots 1943 These photographs taken during the war show the building density and concentration of life at the waterâ€™s edge. A handful of buildings seen here are identifiable today but most have gone. It is easy to see here the docks in full before they were partly filled in for the Tay road bridge in the 60s and the tight urban grain that once existed with strong connections between the city centre and river Tay. Subsequent road planning and introduction of dual carriageways have destroyed this grain and relationship with the water.
wishart arch The arch as it stands today is a curious structure and would probably arouse interest from most passers by, for it is a hole in a wall that no longer exists. Indeed, with a window overlooking it, I have observed many a tourist pay a visit to be photographed posing under the stone arch. It is the only surviving part of the medieval city walls that once enclosed Dundee, preserved for it association with George Wishart who preached from this point during the plague. The rest of the walls built to protect the city from England’s ‘rough wooing’ From the ‘then’ photograph, we can see that even up until the end of the 19th century, the arch was attached to buildings either side of Cowgate and clearly dissected the road, now it is a rather lonely object, exposed to car parks and main roads which lay adjacent to Wishart Arch.
wishart arch +cowgate The arch with its various shaped openings, since its conception, will have been framing views of the world around it, like eyes. It will have witnessed Cowgate evolve from a busy central street with houses above shops at ground level to one divided by the A99, linked only via a dingy subway and leaving one half isolated from the shops.
st roques library|the reading rooms The club, the Reading Rooms has been loyal to its original use, the name for a start, even the landscaping hasn’t changed, as observed in the ‘then’ photo; most would not have a problem identifying what types of memory may be held in the walls of this building. The main difference being where it was once a public building along with gardens, accessible during the day, it is now a nocturnal creature open only to the paying customer with a penchant for dance music.
st roques library|the reading rooms The original stone engraving displays the current name of the building and describes its original purpose. This would have been a purely functional expression, not even displaying the name [St Roques Library] but now it does represent a name and a brand. The name has also found its way onto the commercial waste bin that now sits on the street.
public baths In 1844 it was decided to introduce public baths and wash houses for the working class, this decision was overseen by a committee which included James Chalmers, the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp. Before the construction of the road bridge, there existed public baths right on the riverfront.
constable street The road that got chopped in two and was left with nothing on it. The two halves of the road have neither a physical nor visual connection as the creation of Blackscroft as a main road connecting Dundee to Arbroath strode on top of it. Now lined with derelict mills, this area would have been one of the busiest places in town during more industrial times. There survives one building with a number, number 50 Constable Street. Does it even need a number? Every other building is either demolished or about to be. It is not possible to even enter Constable street by car now owing to craned in boulders. No buildings, no route, what actually is Constable street?
lightship ‘Scotland’s last remaining lightship’ was used during WWII to guide allied vessels on the treacherous journey from the Clyde to the Mersey. Although not always a helpful presence, in 1945, a German submarine hid beneath the lightship and struck British ships. The crew’s quarters under deck would have once been decorated with photos of family and pin ups, connecting the ship at sea in all its isolation to many different lives dotted across the country and beyond.
cranes 90 ton crane
From purely functional machines to riverside sculptures which guard the quayside like silent giants. Former tracks which connect the cranes fragment the paths, dictating where people walk. Recent riverside regeneration is occurring in phases along the waterâ€™s edge, starting closest to the city centre and working its way out and growing in size as it does so. This has had the consequence controlling the skyline and accessibility to the water in a very linear fashion. Some cranes are free to be explored by a curious passer by, others sit in a building site surrounded by barriers. Cranes as salute to Dundeeâ€™s industrial past.
cranes scars of hard life
hollowed machinery : new home for pigeons : dirty patch of path framed landscape
trams +trade resident interview joe fairweather; 1895
iâ€™m an architectural and monumental sculptor, we do marblecutting an sell polished granite too. down on union street is a great place fae business. lots ae the wealthy lot drive past in their carriages to and from inspecting shipments at the docks. lots ae the grand buildings need my skills too. we get some material from nearby, like the pink granite frae aberdeen but we also ship a lot so itâ€™s good to dundee is a proud an grand wee city, an its people want it to look nice, tae those who live here but also those who come intae dundee on the ships.
royal arch +waterfront The water’s edge, East Dock street, once home to shops, hotels, houses and pubs. It was here where living went hand in hand with working. A key structure obvious in any waterfront photo predating the 60s is the Royal Arch, built for the arrival of Queen Victoria in 1844, the first royal visit to Dundee for 200 years. It was demolished to make way for the road bridge, its remains thrown into the water. [The same architect designed the Wallace Monument in Stirling.] It goes to show what an easily identifiable city Dundee must have been from the water, the royal arch, the bell tower of bell mill, church spires... vistas in the urban grain taking your gaze through to all the streets of Dundee’s centre. Now, if you managed to get yourself to the waterfront, you wouldn’t see much unique to Dundee staring back at you.
bell mill resident interview bill the pigeon; 2006-present
I was born +brought up in bell mill, it’s currently the biggest community of pigeons in Dundee, I’m really chuffed I got to grow up here, my family’s been here since the 80s when the humans stopped using it as a mill, it’s really quite something, five floors just for us, we don’t share with any humans now, +a loft space too. coo coo. for such a central location, there’s loads of space, more have moved in since the all the mechanics moved out last year coo coo I’ve heard talk though from the men in white hats +yellow jackets that come to look round every so often that it might be renovated for humans to move in, or even demolished altogether coo coo every evening, just before sunset we all flock together in the sky above the mill, part team bonding, part exercise, then we settle down for the night, the views are something else from the bell tower, my mate terry who used to hang out around the art college says it looks like an Escher drawing he once saw a student looking at in a book coo coo I spend most days going between the best places in town to eat out, my girlfriend Belinda lives in the secret windows under Victoria road, it’s just next door, I’m never far from bell mill, it’s home coo coo
1. bill +friends on evening flock; 2. bill +belinda at hers next door
bell mill resident interview kenny the mechanic; marquee motors, 1993-2008 it wasnae great for business being in that run down area of toon, most of the buildings along there are disused +derelict old mills. with all those smashed windows, blacked oot windows +dumped furniture, it could be quite a threatening place, especially ae night don’t get me wrong, we had loads ae space on the ground floor of bell mill, which was great, +back in the day when all the car repairers were round there it was a laugh but because the rest of the building above us was empty, we were a wee bit invisible in there, escaped prospective customers’ notice. we’ve now moved ten minutes up the road, we’re located beside other businesses, in a busier bit ae toon +that works much better fae us I dunnae know what’s going to happen tae all those empty old mills, I think it’s sad to see dundee’s former industrial glory going tae waste in front of yir eyes like that. in ma grandda’s time, the mills were the pride ae the whole city businesses that moved away
heaven +hell resident interview mary the missionary; worker at bell mill; 1859-1876
commemorative ten pound note featuring mary slessor of calibar
we moved to Dundee when I was 10 +shortly after my da lost his job, he was drinking too much back then, so maw got me a job to bring some money in, at the Baxter brothers’ jute mill on st roque’s lane. I also went to the wishart united free church just on the other side of the road, this area’s known at heaven +hell because the church was built above a pub, the john o’groats. our family did ok with me +my siblings all working at least part time but whilst working at the mill I met some deeply poor people who had never had any chance to be educated like me. it got me interested in actively helping +teaching those impoverished, I did it through church +one thing lead to another +I found myself in Nigeria, working as a missionary +fighting for the nigerians’ human rights post colonisation +the slave trade. bell mill is a place that will always be close to my heart though, it’s where I discovered my passion after all, all those years ago
unicorn From 1873, the Unicorn was at home in Earl Grey dock but when that was due to be filled in for Tay road bridge in 1961, the frigate was to be scrapped until saved by the foundation of the Unicorn Preservation Society [chaired by Lord Dalhousie] and moved to Camperdown dock in 1962 [now in Victoria dock] It is a unique survivor of the transition between wooden sailing ship and the iron steamship [developed after the capture of french frigate, HEBE in 1782] Prolific name change [unicorn to unicorn II to HMS Cressy] Second oldest ship afloat in Britain to Trincomalee in Hartlepool. Mary Buick who worked on board the Unicorn [a blue plaque on the boat commemorates this] also prepared the body of Horatio Nelson on board HMS Victory HMS Discovery – Antarctic – built specifically for scientific investigation – Dundee Island
unicorn resident interview hms unicorn; dundee docks; 1873present my initial journey up north from chatham felt like I was moving truely far away, we had to cross the rough stormy waves of the North Sea before seeking shelter in the firth of Tay. when I first arrived at Dundee docks, the city was a hive of activity and I was right in the centre of it. always people around shouting and other ships to keep me company, travelling from places far away. then some of the factories started to close and the other boats disappeared, so did all the people. when there was talk of a new road bridge, it didnâ€™t look good for me. in the end i moved next door but the roads came and i didnâ€™t see much of the city anymore. it was very quiet for me from then. in the last few years, city quay was all developed and more people come to see me now, nothing like the old days though, it can be lonely
the manifestation of pockets of memory