Tuesday, 3 May 2016

faith shook in romance, my imagination danced

It's been lovely to have a longer weekend this week. I have long weekends at uni anyway as I finish on Thursday afternoon and I'm not in again until Monday afternoon, but it's still been different because everyone's had more time. It meant that when I got back from Leeds on Saturday afternoon there was still so much of the weekend left. I went to a birthday party at my friend's flat on Sunday night which involved a lot of dancing on sofas to Bowie and The Smiths. I spent bank holiday Monday eating breakfast food all day and watching Freaks and Geeks and Batman Begins with Ethan. 
Anyway, I've been journalling a lot recently; I've always tried to keep on top of documenting everything but this journal is the first time that it has all come together. It goes without saying that what captivates me most takes up a lot of space in my journal. Since discovering Park Hill flats in December they have been a huge fascination for me. These photos are from the first and second times I visited Park Hill- the second series in this post were taken in December by Ethan when we visited for the first time when we spent the day exploring the city and the first set of photos were taken by Antonio when he came up to Sheffield for a few days and we tried to fit in as many city highlights as possible. 
I know I've posted some of these before, but I wanted to have them all in one place.

A couple of weeks ago I went to an open air cinema screening of Romeo + Juliet at Park Hill flats. It was the perfect location for a film about doomed romance, as there is a sense of romantic tragedy at Park Hill. 
The initial vision for the construction of the brutalist flats was to transform an area previously known as "Little Chicago" (for it's high crime rate) into a perfect example of social housing, creating a tight sense of community to diminish crime. It worked at first. In the 1960s having the pub, local shops, pre-school and sport facilities all within the same complex was convenient and older residents talk about how lovely it was. However, by the 1980s, the "streets in the sky" where milk floats would drive up and down, had become a hub for gang crime. 
There are conflicting views of Park Hill. It is an ugly place; that's inarguable. It looks down over the city ominously, greeting you, as if as a reminder of Sheffield's physically unattractive industrial past, as you pull into the train station. On the other hand, you can see the I love you bridge from far away, especially when it is lit up at night. This is more like a symbol of hope and love; a message from the city to you (though the story behind it is of a love nearly as hopeless as Romeo and Juliet.) Despite its ugliness, Park Hill cannot be taken down because it is the largest listed building Europe. It was listed in the '90s for its brutalist architecture, but it is also a landmark of Sheffield; with it featuring in songs by Pulp and The Crookes and in an Arctic Monkeys music video. The red lights of The Leadmill sign can be seen from the I love you bridge and vice versa. 
The renovation of Park Hill began in 2011, a sign that the original vision for the flats has truly died. The flats are being marketed towards the wealthy and their artistic connotations are becoming gentrified. At the Romeo + Juliet screening there was a 30 minute video about the renovation before the film began. It was some of the most sickeningly in-your-face advertising I have ever seen and it jarred uncomfortably with the reasons why the event had appealed to me so much. 
The company renovating Park Hill decided to light up the graffiti on the I love you bridge as a warm message welcoming visitors to the city. The bridge reads "I love you will you marry me." The original graffiti read "Claire Middleton I love you will you marry me." The bridge has become a romantic symbol, but the erasing of the original message is kind of sad because it makes it so impersonal. Claire Middleton did not marry the man that wrote his proposal for the whole city to see and she recently died of cancer. The Crookes' "The I Love You Bridge" perfectly explains why it is still such a powerful and emotional symbol. 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and bank holiday. Next weekend I'm going to Peddler night market on Friday and I'm seeing High-Rise on Saturday. I'm going to take some photos of the night market to post here and I'll write a bit about what I think of High-Rise. 

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