Desire Paths

Deadline midnight 13th June

x3 large commissions; £5000 plus £3000 production budget each

x6 small commissions; £1000 plus £500 production budget each

About Desire Paths

A desire path is a route “where the grass is worn thin between the places we find ourselves and the places we would like to be”. 

Deviating from controlled routes designed by urban planning, property ownership and traffic systems, they symbolise the self-made solutions carved out by communities (human or animal), the wisdom of crowds, intuitive design & rebellious creativity.

Desire Paths (19 August 2023 – 25 November 2023) is Turf Projects’ Croydon London Borough of Culture flagship project and part of Turf’s year exploring the theme ‘DEMYSTIFICATION’. A satellite arts festival across Croydon, the project aims to explore how communities and creatives can shape the spaces and places around them, with a focus on disused and underused spaces around the borough.

An artist-led charity founded by Croydon locals in 2013, Turf was set up to provide opportunities & space for creatives locally. Operating in ex-retail spaces in Croydon with an uncertain future due to as-yet-unrealised urban development, the questions we frequently found ourselves asking about who has power over space in our hometown acted as our starting point for Desire Paths;

  • How do spaces end up empty? How can we bring them back into use?
  • How can people be more actively involved in these processes, why aren’t they?
  • Who owns space in Croydon? What are the roles of culture, commerce & power in how space is shaped, valued and co-opted?
  • How does rapid change & regeneration impact our sense of wellbeing, stability, belonging & collective memory? 
  • How could Croydon forge its own path in determining how spaces and places are used?
 

We wanted to approach these questions with humour, playfulness and curiosity, in an attempt to demystify the processes behind them.

Desire Paths will be led by artists, organisations or collectives chosen by open call. The project will start with a symposium event at Turf and then unfold and expand across Croydon via the projects commissioned through this open call.

Large Open Call

This open call is for the large commissions – there will be 3 successful projects in total.

We’re looking for projects which respond to empty, unused & disused spaces around Croydon, seeking the potential of these and other spaces around us. What future can you imagine for them and for Croydon?

For our large Desire Paths commissions, we’d like to see projects which;

  • Showcase Croydon as a place with rich collective folklore and emotional memory. Fantastical, curious, magical, idealistic, world-building and humorous approaches are all encouraged.
  • Include elements of research & community collaboration, using creativity as a way to get people involved in how decisions are made about spaces & places.
  • Center around an disused space or type of space in Croydon. Here’s a list of place the Turf team love – you’re not limited to this list, but if you’re exploring a different space or type of space, give us some backstory. You’ll need to think about where your project might take place too.
  • Focus on creating long-term impact & legacy, building skills & networks to leave communities better equipped to engage in decisions made about the spaces around them. We’re particularly interested in projects where creative outputs have a practical application e.g. a resource for communities to understand town planning, a manifesto, a series of protest boards or posters.
 

You’ll need to also;

  1. Be available for the timeline below, including presenting your plans at the opening event on 19th July 2023 & closing event on the 25th November 2023.
  2. Feed into local policy via ongoing discussion & research, in collaboration with the Turf Team and project partners.
  3. Feed into the Desire Paths publication in collaboration with the publication team.

Note that projects don’t need to be ready by August. The process is as important as the outcome here – we envisage planning and production beginning to take place in June/July, developing & unfolding over the course of the project. 

For larger objects and work in public spaces, we’d need to consider carefully the logistics of how and where they’re produced & sited.

We will be awarding three grants for three successful projects. Each successful project will receive:

  1. Fee paid to each successful project of £5000 (inc VAT)
  2. Production budget of £3000 each (inc VAT)
  3. A shared working space at Turf Projects.
  4. Turf will offer support with production, including promoting your project via our marketing channels and providing support on making your project accessible.
  5. Public presentation of your project at Turf Projects or one of our satellite sites during the Desire Paths programme. (19 August 2023 – 25 November 2023)
  6. Your project will be showcased in a publication launched in November 2023.

Please consider this timeline in your application.

17th June 2023: Successful & unsuccessful applicants will be notified.

21st June 2023: Planning will start.

22nd of July 2023: Group Planning Meeting with Turf Team and all Selected Projects.

19th August 2023: Opening symposium (we’d like all selected projects to attend this) and project delivery starts.

25th November 2023: Closing symposium and presentation of the evaluation of your project.


We want to help with any barriers you might have to applying, so if you have any specific requests or questions about this open call please contact us at info@turf-projects.com  

  1. Applications can be made as individuals or groups.
    We welcome applications from artists, activists, architects, organisations, collectives and community groups. As this project is focused on Croydon, applicants with local connections will be prioritised.
  2. We’re flexible on how you make your proposal.
    It could be a short video (up to 5 mins) of you talking about your project, a written application, or another format.
    Clear and concise applications are more likely to be successful.
  3. What to include:
    • An outline of your proposal & ideas for your project. Let us know;
      • How it relates to the Desire Paths brief and the particular disused space or type of space you’re focusing on.
      • Any key timelines / milestones from August-November (e.g workshops in August-September, creating outcome in October)
      • How people will get involved in your project in person and remotely (for example via workshops/events)
      • How your project will have long-term impact / legacy
    • A bit about you & your interests, and examples of your previous work.
    • 1-2 lines explaining your connection to Croydon.

 

Send your application to info@turf-projects.com by midnight the 13th of June in an email titled: Desire Paths Large Project Proposal – Your Name/Organisation Name

Small Open Call

This open call is for the small commissions – there will be 6 successful projects in total.

We’re looking for projects which respond to empty, unused & disused spaces around Croydon, seeking the potential of these and other spaces around us. What future can you imagine for them and for Croydon? 

We’d like to see projects which;

  • Showcase Croydon as a place with rich collective folklore and emotional memory. Fantastical, curious, magical, idealistic, world-building and humorous approaches are all encouraged.
  • Aim to draw attention to, demystify and get people involved in how decisions are made about spaces & places
 

You could focus on a particular space, type of spaces, or space-related issue (here’s a list of places the Turf team love)Projects could take any format e.g. an artwork, activity, digital output, policy or toolkit. Active collaboration throughout the project is encouraged. Projects will be hosted & supported by Turf Projects at our space in the Whitgift Shopping Centre and/or around the borough during the Desire Paths programme, depending on what locations are available to us. For larger objects and work in public spaces, we’d need to consider carefully the logistics of how and where they’re produced & sited.

We will be awarding six grants for six successful projects. Each successful project will receive:

  1. Fee Paid to successful projects of £1000 (inc VAT)
  2. Project production budget of £500 (inc VAT)
  3. Turf will offer support with production, promoting your project via our marketing channels and providing support on making your project accessible.
  4. Public presentation of your project at Turf Projects or one of our satellite sites during the Desire Paths programme. (19 August 2023 – 25 November 2023) 
  5. Your project will be showcased in a publication launched in November 2023.

Please consider this timeline in your application. 

17th June 2023: Successful & unsuccessful applicants will be notified. 

21st June 2023: Planning will commence

22nd of July 2023: Group planning meeting with Turf team and all selected projects.

19th August 2023: Opening symposium – we’d like all selected projects to attend this.

19th August – 25th November 2023: Project delivery. 

25th November 2023: Closing symposium.

We want to help with any barriers you might have to applying, so if you have any specific requests or questions about this open call please contact us at info@turf-projects.com  
 
  1. Applications can be made as individuals or groups.
    We welcome applications from artists, activists, architects, organisations, collectives and community groups. As this project is focused on Croydon, applicants with local connections will be prioritised.
  2. We’re flexible on how you make your proposal.
    It could be a short video (up to 5 mins) of you talking about your project, a written application, or another format.
    Clear and concise applications are more likely to be successful.
  3. What to include:
    • An outline of your proposal & ideas for your project. Let us know;
      • How it relates to the Desire Paths brief and the particular disused space or type of space you’re focusing on.
      • Any key milestones from August-November (e.g research in August documented online, photography in September, showcase in October)
      • In brief, how you might spend the production budget.
      • How people might get involved in your project in person and remotely (for example via workshops/events)
      • How your project will have long-term impact / legacy
    • A bit about you & your interests, and examples of your previous work.
    • 1-2 lines explaining your connection to Croydon.

Send your application to info@turf-projects.com by midnight the 13th of June in an email titled: Desire Paths Large Project Proposal – Your Name/Organisation Name

Desire Paths is funded by the Greater London Authority & Arts Council England, a flagship project as part of the Croydon London Borough of Culture 2023 programme. For more info about the  programme visit: culturecroydon.com 

Publication production (expressions of interest)

We’re looking for a team or individual to document, research and record the Desire Path Programme of activities across Croydon, including activities at Turf Projects, and three satellite projects located across the Borough.

The publication team will work alongside the Turf team and the local artists and organisations commissioned for Desire Paths, to collate & present the projects’ research, community collaborations & outcomes into a high quality publication.

We’re looking for local researchers, designers and editors to produce this publication. We welcome expressions of interest either as individuals or groups but we do see the production of the publication as a collaborative process so we would love local researchers, historians etc to be involved. The maximum fee for a group is £6000. 

Each member of the publication teams roles must;

  1. Attend Desire Paths workshops/events across Croydon, at least 12
  2. Attend at the opening event on the 19th July 2023
  3. Produce a publication that documents the Desire Paths programme, research & outcomes in collaboration with their fellow publication team members, Turf Projects, and other Desire Paths commissionees. Print copy due 25th November 2023. 
  4. Present the completed Publication at the closing event on the 25/11/23
  1. Fee paid to publication team of £6000 (inc VAT)
  2. Production budget of £3000 (inc VAT) total. This should include the production costs of a physical print run of the publication and any associated costs for collaborating with external researchers.
  3. A shared working space at Turf Projects.
  4. Turf Projects will offer support with production, marketing and access, including curating your project into our program, promoting your project via our marketing channels and providing access support. 
  5. The publication and research will be launched at Turf Projects in November 2023.

17th June 2023: Successful & unsuccessful applicants will be notified. 

21st June 2023: Planning will start.

22nd of July 2023: Group Planning Meeting with Turf Team and all Selected Projects. 

19th August 2023: Opening symposium (we’d like all selected projects to attend this) and project delivery starts.

25th November 2023: Final print copy of publication due & delivered to Turf.

25th November 2023: Closing symposium and presentation of the evaluation of your project.

We want to help with any barriers to applying, so if you have any specific requests or questions about this open call please contact us at  info@turf-projects.com  

    1. Expressions of Interest can be made as both individuals and groups.
      We welcome applications from artists, activists, architects, organisations, collectives and community groups. As this project is locally focused, applicants with local connections will be prioritised. (Groups no matter their size will receive the combined fee of £6000 in total)
    2. We’re flexible on how you make your proposal.
      It could be a short video (up to 5 mins) of you talking about your project, a written application, or another format.
      Clear and concise applications are more likely to be successful.
  • What to include: 
    1. An outline of your initial publication ideas, how they relate to the Desire Paths brief, & an outline of your team if applying as one.
    2. A bit about you & your interests, and examples of your previous work.
    3. 1-2 lines explaining your connection to Croydon
    4. A few sentences answering; 
      1. How might the publication have long-term impact / legacy?
      2. How might people get involved in the production of the publication in person and remotely? (for example workshops/events)

Please send your expression of interest to info@turf-projects.com by midnight the 13th of June in an email titled: Desire Paths Publication application – Your Name/Organisation Name

Desire Paths is funded by the Greater London Authority & Arts Council England, a flagship project as part of the Croydon London Borough of Culture 2023 programme. For more info about the  programme visit: culturecroydon.com 

FAQs

The open call is just for exploring the idea of how disuses spaces would be used.

Our list is just a list of spaces we’re interested & know to be empty. You might look at them as case studies or inspiration.

To be quite open – using empty spaces was our original intention for the project, but it became impossible to progress with landowners in Croydon. This was frustrating, but arguably interesting context for the project…

However, we have our spaces at Turf earmarked for showcasing work. Work in publicly owned spaces like parks are also likely to be possible under the Council’s licensing.

Our list is just a list of spaces we’re interested in to give people inspiration & show what kinds of spaces are lying empty in our borough.


You’re not limited to this list and could highlight any space or type of disused space in Croydon, just give us a bit of context about why!

We’ll add in questions here as we receive them!

Inspiration

Rooted in Croydon, Turf have put on quite a few projects which relate to space and place and to Croydon itself.
Here are some of them;

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them … that we must fit our plans.”

Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners


“desire paths are not inert histories. Once established, they influence how pedestrians use and interact with their environment going forward”

Desire paths: the unofficial footpaths that frustrate, captivate campus planners


“ancient sunken lanes known as ‘holloways‘ (or: hollow ways) represent a particularly extreme expression of the desire path phenomenon. Many of these semi-subterranean routes have formed over hundreds or even thousands of years, eventually appearing more like a tunnel than a pathway.”

Least Resistance: How Desire Paths Can Lead to Better Design