The newly redeveloped Station Street in the city centre will have its very own poetry wall from next week when an artwork to celebrate Nottingham’s UNESCO City of Literature status is switched on.
‘Line of Light’, created by artist Jo Fairfax, will project five-word poems by writers including Byron, Lawrence and Ovid, as well as current Nottinghamshire residents, onto the underside of the Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge over Station Street. Two sets of parallel lines, mirroring the tram tracks above, will light up and pulse whenever a tram goes overhead. Patterns of light will continue under the tram tracks to the canal, finishing with a projection of Nottingham lace. The poems will change every day for a year and will include suggestions or specially written works from other UNESCO Cities of Literature and over 100 members of the public.
The art installation was commissioned by Nottingham City Council for the recently pedestrianised Station Street as part of the regeneration of this part of the city centre, which also includes the Townscape Heritage programme in the Carrington Street area and the forthcoming transformation of the Broadmarsh area. ‘Line of Light’ will be switched on in time for Nottingham’s Festival of Literature (8 to 13 November), which will feature international writers including Amit Chaudhuri, Gillian Slovo, Sheila Rowbotham and Alison Moore.
Jo said: “The inspiration for ‘Line of Light’ comes directly from Nottingham and the exact location was a significant influence on the overall design. I also wanted to celebrate the wonderfully rich literary position that Nottingham holds.
“Although ‘Line of Light’ is rooted in local references, I wanted the poems to be international and across time. I researched thousands of poems, which was an amazingly enriching and humbling journey. Ex-Poet Laureate Andrew Motion sent in a poem, John Hegley wrote one especially for the project and we also received a line from Jake Bugg. In the end I went with my instinct of what would look just right on the Station Street wall – it wasn’t a qualitative decision because all the poems were amazing. I want each line to act as a depth charge for people’s imaginations and souls as they go about their business.”
Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “Along with our other projects to regenerate this side of the city centre, our transformation of Station Street is creating an attractive and welcoming gateway to the city. ‘Line of Light’ will help provide a sense of place, creating an intriguing, vibrant atmosphere and celebrating Nottingham’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature in an eye-catching and thought-provoking way. I would like to thank everyone who contributed a poetry suggestion and Tramlink Nottingham for its co-operation with this project.”
Brendan Moffett, Chief Executive of Marketing Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, said: “We are extremely proud that Nottingham is one of just 20 cities in the world to have received the prestigious status of UNESCO City of Literature. The accolade recognises our rich literary history and thriving cultural and creative offer. It places Nottingham firmly on the literary world map and helps to boost cultural tourism to the city as well as supporting the wide range of creative businesses in and around Nottingham. ‘Line of Light’ will provide a fitting and long-lasting celebration of our status and give visitors to the city a taste of the creativity they can expect to find here.”