Tuesday, June 24, 2008

rolling and roles

Here's a nice pic Tim took of people rolling down a grass slope at the Thames Barrier Park.

Hattie is a speaker at the forthcoming Places to Play conference which will launch Luton's Playbuilder programme. She will be talking about how we can deliver a truly playable public realm and what role artists can play.

Monday, June 23, 2008

urban wordplay

Sarah Butler is a writer and literature development worker whose consultancy company UrbanWords specialises in projects which use creative writing as a way to explore and question our relationship to place. She interviewed Hattie and Chris about public projects involving text and you can read her full report, A Place for Words at

Here's an extract:

"Ask children what they want in their new playground and they might say, oh, some swings over there in the corner, maybe a slide, and a sandpit. Now get a writer to guide them through the process of creating a group poem that asks them what they think play is; what makes them feel safe; and how their dream playground would make them feel, like the organisation Snug and Outdoor do when they start to design new play spaces for children, and you get a totally different picture. A group of children with physical and learning disabilities in Southampton, working with the poet Chris Meade, told Snug and Outdoor that their dream playground is the place that makes you go ahhhhh setting up a real challenge and opportunity for the designers and architects to respond to. By engaging creatively with space and their emotional responses to space, the children were able to get past the play spaces they already had or had already experienced and re-imagine the possibilities of a new space.

Snug and Outdoor used a similar process in a public art project, Hackney Hotlinks, that explored the relationship people living, working or visiting Mare Street in Hackney had with that place and what their aspirations and hopes might be 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."

Sarah is now doing further research, funded by Arts Council England, looking at ways of:
* Effectively consulting with communities – helping to give voice to groups of residents who might find conventional consultation techniques hard to handle
* Helping developers, architects and communities think creatively about the spaces they inhabit/want to create
* Finding ways of expressing Heritage and natural ecologies in the creation of new spaces that have a distinctive sense of place using writing techniques to help communities to appreciate/understand local heritage and using this to help engage with new developments during and after their planning and construction

South Bank graffiti

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Hattie is on the play trail this summer as part of a roadshow organised by Robin of Sutcliffe Play, travelling the nation to talk play.

‘Genius Loci’ seminars will address the current issues which challenge and confront play providers today.

The first seminar will be on 11 June in Dublin, hosted by Sugradh, the IPPA (the Early Childhood Organisation) and Allplay. This will be followed by seminars in Belfast (June 12), Wakefield (July 10) and Cardiff (July 18). Autumn dates in London and Edinburgh are to be confirmed.

Managing Director of Sutcliffe Play, Robin Sutcliffe, said: “In Roman mythology a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place, often depicted as a snake. Now it usually refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere and is the foundation for one of the principles of landscape architecture – that designs should always be adapted to the context in which they are located.

“This should equally be applied to play spaces and forms the background to this series of seminars.”

Hattie will be the first of the day’s speakers, her theme: “Nature is all very well but…”

Hattie will be followed by Noel Farrer, landscape architect, CABE Enabler and Director of Farrer Huxley Associates – a London practice specialising in the development of meaningful, quality spaces for people to enjoy and play. He will look at public realm space and asks “Who needs standards anyway?”

Bernard Spiegal, Principal of PLAYLINK, will then address the issue of consultation with a talk titled “Consultation – stop it, please, stop it!”

The final talk of the morning will by given by Robin Sutcliffe of Sutcliffe Play. He will state his case with “What’s your problem with fixed play equipment?”

The seminars, which cost £50 (€70 for Dublin) will include lunch and a CPD certificate of attendance.

For details on how to book a place email lisad@sutcliffeplay.co.uk or telephone 01977 653200.

A Bouncing Bench and Calvinball

The best cartoon strip in the world on organised play - recommended by Bruno Taylor of BigBru designs who also sent us this fantastic picture of his amazing bouncing bench.