I lived, and taught, in Brighton, on the south coast of England, for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed walking, the visual work I made had its basis in walking. It seemed appropriate to me that I should set a project for some of my students that reflected my own activity, and in which I could also participate. During our weekly meetings I would present what I had collected, alongside work they’d produced, for discussion and debate.
Brighton promenade was our starting point. This was our project outline.

We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much.
Robert Walser

It’s a simple enough act, walking along the promenade between Brighton Pier and the skeleton of the West Pier; both present, intensely in the moment, part of the spectacle, and at the same time removed, an observer of the spectacle and its shadow, in the drama of the ordinary and the everyday. Central to this activity is an awareness of the often overlooked, sometimes misplaced, abandoned. It is perhaps in the apparently insignificant detail that the richness of a place may be encountered; those fleeting collisions so much a part of the spaces we inhabit.

Walking, drifting, stopping, maybe sitting at a cafe, or in one of the public shelters along the prom. It’s not the meeting of strangers that’s important, but the spectacle provided by them; a claiming of territory, worlds within worlds, familiar to some, a cause for anxiety, exclusion, among others.

Keep walking, towards the Peace Statue, the old municipal boundary, and the shelters take on a different character. Towels hung over makeshift lines strung across a shelter entrance, sleeping bags, bundles of blankets, clothing, cans and bottles stashed under shelter seats, territory claimed, for some preferable to the night shelter. The promenade, largely a product of 19th century bourgeois society, takes on something of a different character in the 21st century.

Going for a stroll, come fair or foul weather, wet or fine, recording observations, chance encounters, everyday incidents in the space between two piers.

That’s what we did, and that’s how these short stories developed.

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