Thursday, 21 April 2011


I  finally made the trip to Blackpool happen! (Thanks to the financial support and the driving capabilities of Nick)
The reason why i felt i needed to go to Blackpool before i started work on my end of year show started to become blurred a couple of weeks ago, mainly because my lack of memory- however the crooked house concept has really stuck in my mind for a year now, and as the ideas for what i am planning to do take shape in my mind, the crooked house is still a reference that i can't ignore- as well as some of the influencial DVDs i have been watching in the past months. One of them of course being 'Blackpool'. I know that this is or was the main reason for going and i think it has only just occurred to me now how everything links.

'Blackpool' is a series that somewhat puts Blackpool in quite a magical light- the fun of singing and dancing in brightly coloured spaces, but the darkness slowly seeps into the fun and characters that you think are 'what you see is what you get' become the most interesting and complex. The interest and link to my work in this context being the complexity of stereotypes. The second link to connect the crooked house is the 'real estate' angle that is a big theme throughout the series. Wanting to extend an empire at all costs to reputation and family to build a reputation and provide for a family. It is all a big crooked game based on gambling. I think this is why i wanted to go to Blackpool- just to break the myth that i have built in my own mind from this series that Blackpool is actually a fun and colourful place to be.

I did break that myth. On entering Blackpool by road you are led to the promenade from the motorway by a tree lined road- you're not allowed to see the residential space behind the trees, this is something that the council have obviously decided to leave to rot while they 'do up' the tower again. Between the gaps in the blossoming trees there are a lines of 20's terraced houses, cracked pavements and rusty cars. Led into the main town, you can see that this should be and was a place packed with people, but this time of year it is very empty, most shops are boarded up and the ones that are open, have only just brushed the cobwebs away for tourist season. As i mentioned, the Blackpool tower is being renovated, as with much of the golden mile. The trams aren't running and the north pier is pretty much closed, which is unfortunate because this is the one i was most interested in, as it is the most charming and has the least amusements. The closure of the trams means that you have to walk the stretch of the mile to get to each entertainment centre and in turn you get to see the joy of what is the middle of the 'Golden Mile'. We passed about 10-15 hotels plonked in the middle of the mile either closed or 'vacant', again this could be because we are not in high season, but it didn't look like healthy business.
I'm not suggesting at all that The Blackpool Tower should be forgotten either- the Tourist trade seems to be the only trade of Blackpool, and from images i have seen of the Blackpool Ballroom and other places like the Winter Gardens, yes, this should all be renovated because it is beautiful. However, there is definitely an un-even distribution in the town of where money is spent and maybe giving the town a little more trade than gambling and Ferris wheels would be a help.

We took Charlotte with us, and she really led the trip- spending a whole day at the pleasure park so she could go on 'The big one'- namely one of the highest and fastest roller coasters in Europe. You wouldn't have thought it though, because Que times were very short. Maybe 10mins max to get on any of the big roller coasters. It probably made it the most relaxing trip to a theme park I've ever been to, not having to stand in a line for 3 hours just so you can witness the fear of falling over the edge- but on the other hand you still didn't escape the amusements being in the park- Although going on the rides was fun it was always in the back of Charlotte's mind that she wanted to go on those Teddy grabbers.

Back to the note about Crooked houses, there were quite a few in the park, one called 'impossible which was a 'project' by a guy called something Mercer- interesting to think that a theme park ride could be  a project- but anyway, this had the classic ride inside where you feel like the room is turning upside down- in a way it is, but you are also being revolved half way. There were also a lot of Op-art on the wall in large tacky frames- like Escher and the Bridget Riley. This was more of a bizarre house than a crooked one, however there was an 'Alice in Wonderland' ride that full-filled my expectations of a crooked house. A ride completed in 1962- this ride consists of Cheshire cat cars and an odd journey into a massive concrete castle full of elements of the book- however everything is painted in neon paint, although Alice in Wonderland is a bizarre book anyway, this is something else- too much for you to take in at once- visually it was mind blowing and i think i would have preferred to have just walked round at my own pace.

    The crooked house is fun and intriguing but always sinister. It plays on ugliness and the grotesque to make children laugh and for all extent purposes is wrong but still amusing- In the same way that arcades are immoral with their advertising. The soft toy machines that are purposely built for children to loose their money, yet children still love them. Blackpool is a crooked place, and although everything is wrong, i still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now i just want to go back to see more.

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