Monday, 28 January 2019

CHALLENGING TOYS: Part 1- The Origins Of The Battle Of Walkerloo circa 2009.

My new paper soldiers first public deployment was on the battlefield of Waterloo in Belgium,18th June 2008.  It was the 193rd anniversary of the battle and we were installed alongside re-enactors in the courtyard of  Napoleon's last battlefield HQ.  Throughout 2008-10 I presented my toy soldier army at history events, markets and fairs throughout Europe & USA.  I boasted my armies original form and notable qualities:
  • The armies size  < 200,000 Soldiers & 6,000 cannon! 
  • The armies strength < 'THICK BABY BOOK STRONG' 
  • The armies ethical, considered creation = 'MADE IN ENGLAND & IN FRANCE WITH 80% RECYCLED MATERIAL'   



I attended these events as a 'trader'.  Successful traders bring to market a set of products which have evolved (traditional goods) or have been selected for sellability through market research.  People were surprised to see a new product presented by its creator.  Most of the toys our children encounter in shops are remote from the hands of the toy author/maker.

In 2009 I began to imagine the real pretend war that is 'The Battle Of Walkerloo'.  A fantastical romantic vision aimed at picturing and provoking the prevailing boys-action-toy-TV/movie-industrial-complex.

In autumn 2009 my poor father was approaching the end of his life due to Mesothelioma, an industrial lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  I moved back home for a month to spend time with him.  Organising my trip I discovered an 'Empty Shop' submissions initiative in Newcastle by Newcastle City Council and made draft a proposal.   I met with the submissions 'officer' at the council offices but the project was not realised.  My father died a few months later and I returned to Normandy.

High street shops that have formed our town centres have lost ground firstly against peripheral super stores and now against giant virtual retail forums.  What can we do to invigorate the public space at the heart of our towns?

The Battle of Walkerloo empty shop project was formulated to deliver a 'richer than retail' space in the centre of Newcastle, the need for such town centre visions grows.

These 2 PDF's comprised the synopsis for The Battle Of Walkerloo in Newcastle 2009.  They are the first documents to outline the real pretend war I continue to depict.