Fungus Press Residency // Ruth Beale // #DFTBA
// 5 Sep – 24 Nov 2019
// At Sites Around Croydon; Wandle Park, Reeves Corner, Park Hill Park
Applying enthusiastic hashtags to vintage postcards, Ruth Beale’s #DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome) connects Croydon’s public spaces to sites across time and space. The images are a mix of better-known tourist destinations and (quite literally) pedestrian and everyday sites – parks, beaches, streets, promenades, squares, lanes, churches, markets, car parks, bus stops, housing estates and footpaths.
The acronyms and initialisms on the posters – FYA (For Your Amusement), ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), FUTAB (Feet Up Take A Break), YOLO (You Only Live Once) – semi-plausibly describe images of Margate, Plymouth, Wittering and Welwyn, but at the same time, reflect back on the public spaces they inhabit in Wandle Park, Reeves Corner and Park Hill. They point to the digital public spaces we share and the rules and conventions we follow on social media, from sharing our whereabouts, to using filters to make images look more analogue, to shorthand, mildly conspiratorial hashtags.
The postcards are selected by the artist from a much larger collection accumulated by their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, many sent to addresses in Leicester, Andover, Surrey and Manchester, or like one featured in the #BBS (Be Back Soon) poster, forwarded to an RAF base in Karachi. The selection defines a very physical understanding of public space, and a form of commemorating and communicating that is noticeably pre-mobile phone, pre-social media and pre-text message.
Ruth Beale has launched a new Instagram account @postcardsofpublicspaces for the project, using both popular generic acronym hashtags and those used to describe public, civic and common attributes (#grass, #view, #air, #concrete, #quiet, #calm, #play, #relax #forage #skate #walk etc). The account will accumulate over the project and beyond.
The text is in an open source typeface commissioned by the artist and developed by designer Saria Digregorio using notcouriersans, based on cattle brands used by farmers to individualise marks on cattle grazing on common land. It is available to download at: ruthbeale.net/everydayresourcefulness
// ABOUT RUTH BEALE
Ruth Beale is a London-based artist with a long-standing interest in collaborative production, exploring implications in culture, governance, social discourse and representation. Ruth is a founding member of the international performance platform Performance as Publishing (pp) and London based artist collaboration The Alternative School of Economics (ase), Co-Chair of Lewisham Arthouse artist cooperative and member of the feminist f*choir. Recent exhibitions and performances include; All the Banners (Silent), Mansions of the Future Lincoln (2019); Speaking to the City, Phytology, London; 350m for the NHS, fig futures, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool; The Britishness Project, Firstsite, Colchester; House of Wisdom, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham (all 2018); and School for Commoners, Festival of Radical Fun, Museum of London (2017).
// ABOUT FUNGUS PRESS
As concerns grow regarding the privatisation of public spaces across London, and elsewhere, Fungus Press invites artists, designers & writers to respond to Croydon’s public spaces through a series of newly commissioned billboard artworks.
Sites include; Wandle Park’s community garden and pond; Park Hill Park’s walled garden; and Reeves Corner. The programme of artworks is complimented by a series of other works, including; published texts, walking tours and an audio guide.
The text-based posters aim to discuss and celebrate the importance and potential of Croydon’s public spaces, offering alternative ways to navigate the area; both geographically and temporally. They speak of Croydon’s untold past and its yet to be written future; reasserting the essential role that green spaces play throughout civic life: from articulating our sense of place, to encouraging democratic engagement.
The Reeves Corner structure was designed by George Chinnery. This structure uses visual signifiers from its immediate environment, including the ‘House of Reeves’ furniture shop and the Reeves Corner roundabout’s white picket fence. The structure also references the recent history of the area, commemorating the Reeves’ family furniture shop, part of which was sadly burnt down in Croydon’s 2011 riots. The Park Hill Park noticeboard was designed and made by artist & woodcarver Esme Toler.