Buoyed by a sense of community loyalty and purpose, two students of the AA School of Architecture have taken matters regarding the future of Berwick Street Market, Soho, into their own hands, paintbrushes and canvases.
Already scouted by the Time Out Blog in December, Alex and Sophie have dedicated much of their extracurricular study to publicising the impending plight of the market sellers of this bustling Soho street.
For years, the market people have made a living in Soho selling an assortment of foods and fruit, but now their future has been cast in doubt following proposed calls from the local council to move them elsewhere.
Instead of the usual billboards, banners and megaphones, Alex and Sophie have taken a constructive and aesthetically pleasing mode of protest, creating an ‘interactive platform where anyone passing by can share their ideas.’
Entitled ‘Positive Dialogues‘, the project plays on the idea that the solution is better met through communication and expression than straightforward demonstrative action.
If you wander down Berwick Street on a Tuesday afternoon, amongst the hubbub of sellers and colours of various stalls, you’ll see a rickety-looking frame made from large planks of timber, draped in vividly annotated canvases. This is the ‘drawing board’ upon which these positive dialogues are being scribed.
This rather modest hub (it originally started as just a blackboard), around which Alex and Sophie are drawing attention to the issue, is where members of the public can come and put paintbrush to paper, to express their views on the future of Berwick Street.
The aim is to record these positive dialogues visually and showcase them to the many people walking Berwick Street’s busy pavements. By engaging pedestrians and loyal market figures, Alex and Sophie are developing an extensive visual recording of emotion which they can then exhibit as a poignant symbol of community spirit.
Positive by name, and positive by nature, the mood seems upbeat. A generous load of timber has recently been donated by a local Soho building site to their cause and Alex and Sophie are currently in the midst of treating the wood before using it to reinforce the current stall:
‘The aim is that this next stall will display all the positive dialogues we have had till now, as well as it being a concrete response to some of the requests by market traders and store holders.’
Things have gained such momentum that Alex and Sophie were forced to take a break last week to process and digest the vast amount of material they’ve now recorded on paper, telling us:
‘The feedback has been so great that we needed this week off to process the material we’ve had up till now in order to display this in the new market stall.’
Having slowly but successfully gained the trust of the market traders, Alex and Sophie have bigger things in the pipeline, such as constructing an online platform in the near future where people can upload their ideas digitally. Workshops in buildings nearby are also on the agenda.
If you’re interested in contributing to Positive Dialogues, why head down to Berwick Street to get involved on a Tuesday soon?