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Structures for an Ordinary Utopia in Frome

SIMON & Tom Bloor have made two new temporary public sculptures for Instructions for an Ordinary Utopia.

The artists met with students from Frome Community College to discuss how they viewed the town and what overlooked or ignored spaces they thought were interesting in the town centre. Following these meetings and exploring the town 2 very different town centre sites were chosen as the locations for their commissions for Instructions for an Ordinary Utopia.

The first of these sites is the courtyard behind Ellenbray Toys and Stationery, Frome’s only independent toyshop, which is housed in the town’s 1960’s brutalist former Library building. This courtyard, sunken below the level of the surrounding pedestrian precinct and bordering the river, is a hidden public square, a riverside plaza waiting to be discovered.

The second site is a small wooded area in Welshmill, adjacent to the river walk and immediately behind Frome Canoe Club. The site is crisscrossed with informal paths where people, especially Frome Community College students, cut across the woods between Welshmill and the town centre on desire line walking routes.

The Bloor’s works are entitled Structures for an Ordinary Utopia and are inspired by discovering beauty and interest in the ordinary fabric of Frome’s town centre such as the chain link fencing around tennis courts and parks, graffiti on skate park ramps benches and sports walls, broken bollards, stacks of building site materials, etc.

The structure in Welshmill woods entitled Structure for an Ordinary Utopia (Play Maze) draws inspiration directly from the chain-link fence enclosures around tennis courts and sports fields at Frome Community College and also from modernist play structures to create a structure that is part maze, part enclosure, part teenage hang-out.

The structure for the Ellenbray courtyard, entitled Structure for an Ordinary Utopia (Public Seating), combines elements of building site hoardings, town notice boards and public seating to create a structure that looks like a new intervention but also like it might be a vandalised remnant of the previous library’s modernist public spaces.

Both structures are decorated in a striking neon spray paint colour palette. During manufacture at Frome Community College the sections for the two structures were overlaid and students helped the artists spray paint swathes of colour across the pywood sheets used to create the Ellenbray structure through the chainlink fencing, simultaneously colouring the chain-link fencing and stenciling an image of the chain-link onto the plywood. This visual device creates a visual connection between the two structures and was inspired by the idea of the structures being ‘pre-vandalised’ – decorated in such a way as to absorb or accommodate potential vandalism.

Simon & Tom Bloor’s Structures for an Ordinary Utopia are available to see daily until Sunday 4 May.