Ian Martin initiates the hanging basket guerilla campaign
MONDAY. The Tamworth Design Festival has been running annually since the late 8th Century and has over the years showcased some truly innovative products. The demountable Witch Detector, for instance. The Snook Rack. The Pig Recycler.
These days it’s mostly furniture. But the artisans of Mercia have lost none of their native cunning, creating hugely desirable conversation pieces at imaginative prices. Today we’re judging the Seating entries. The winner is Sadface & Gentley’s ‘Recession’, a clever reworking of the sofa narrative. A giant Spacehopper the size of a Ford Fiesta, partially deflated, with stumpy little ironic legs. It asks existential questions via the user. Whose face am I ‘actually’ sitting on? What do the apparently redundant giant ribbed handles signify? HOW much? Etc.
TUESDAY. A lot of steam has gone out of the Olympic Rebadging Task Force lately. Even under the giddy guidance of Games minister Suzi Towel – think ‘Akela after too many Lambrinis’ – our old esprit de corps is crumbling. All the consultants are talking directly to the Shadow Olympics team now, and all the political people are lining up jobs as consultants.
Suzi calls the meeting to order with a Mexican Wave. ‘Come on people!’ she roars, throatily. ‘The Olympics – yay! – won’t rebadge itselves!’ We need to make ‘roads and sheds’ sound more important, as this will basically be all there is to see by the time Voters Go To The Polls. Infrastructure may be dull but Mr. Blair taught us that the public sector must have a giggly subtext to make it more competitive. With itself, if necessary. That’s why a ‘public library’ is now an ‘ideas store’. Why a ‘health clinic’ is now a ‘wellness hub’. Why a ‘swimming pool’ is now a luxury apartment block.
After some thought, we rebadge the new roads ‘go channels’. We rebadge the sheds where the roadbuilding machinery is kept ‘power bases’. Then it’s Any Other Business, or ‘lunch’.
WEDNESDAY. Winner of the Tamworth Design Festival’s Lighting category: The Butchlamp by Connor Chance. Scaffolding pole with a 60 watt bulb at the end, £1,095 plus VAT.
THURSDAY. It’s easy to see why everyone’s a little in love with Amy Blackwater, the extreme ecological activist. She’s easily the most attractive woman in a balaclava I’ve ever met, her default setting is ‘engagingly enraged’ and, compellingly, she winds architects right up. She and her friends in the SX-Eco Collective are the nearest thing the profession has to a guilty conscience.
We’re having a pint in the Victorian Farm, a dilapidated pub in rural Essex reborn as an experimental theatre venue. Smoking is allowed on the condition that all drinkers are ‘performers’ taking part in a ‘piece’. At least half of us are drinking, eating and smoking through balaclavas. There are a few new concealed faces today – religious fundamentalists, here to show solidarity with the ecomentalists in the ongoing War Against Living Walls.
Over the last few weeks Amy and co have been carrying out night raids on buildings with living walls and turning off the water pumps. ‘It’s sick!’ splutters Amy. ‘These captive plants might as well be veal calfs. They’re being sustained by a life support machine – itself guzzling up Earth’s Precious Resources – in some Frankenstein nightmare. How is this ecologically sound? In a world divided into gluttony and starvation it’s about as morally defensible as CAT FOOD!’
God, she is wonderful. Her new nutty Christian friends think so too. They reckon living walls are the new Tower of Babel - a symbol of heathen hubris. A manifestation of evil. Architects, once again, believing they are God. ‘If bloody architects want to grow things round their stupid buildings’ says Amy through a cloud of roll-up smoke, ‘let them stick geraniums in a pot. Or have a bloody Virginia Creeper. Or…’ Ooh, I know. Hanging baskets. Architects LOATHE them. In fact, hatred of hanging baskets is a totally dependable bourgeois signifier.
Amy looks as thoughtful as anyone can inside a balaclava. Hm. Direct action to liberate/destroy living walls, AND a hanging basket guerilla campaign? Yes!
FRIDAY. Winner of the Tables category: The Planolith by Daughters of Radon. An artist’s impression of a ‘hard air’ rectangle on bubblejets of psychic energy. Not yet in production.
SATURDAY. Sketch out a reassembled Euston Arch, with hanging baskets.
SUNDAY.Cross-culturally-reference self in the recliner.