Creative Clusters Summit Conference, Sheffield, November 2002. Ultra-cliched stock photography on the front page; let’s hope it’s not one of those thousand-quid ticket junkets.

£8bn to spend? Do some imaginative R&D first:
In the “areas of low housing demand” of the North & Midlands, why not find a suitable street in a declining area, and simply give that street’s half-dozen empty terraced houses to some oh-so-whacky artists (but hopefully not too whacky)? Ah, but… on condition that they live in them and take part in a competition to find and impliment imaginative ways to refurbish the exteriors on a low budget, within 18 months? If they succeed in accomplishing the task, they get to keep the houses to live in. If they win the competition, then a sponsor gives them an artist’s commission too. Or a sponsor pays for them to develop a prototype for a “flat-pack” kit (al la Ikea) to retrofit a terrace’s exterior appearance. Given that terrace houses are so cheap in these areas, such a competition wouldn’t cost too much, and could even be classed as very cost-effective advance R&D for when the government releases the £8bn Housing Market Renewal Area (HMRA) money.

My idea comes after seeing a photo of what some artists have done in Derby in the East Midlands. The house’s concrete back yard had been covered up by “shingle”; different coloured bands of small beach-pebbles. The exterior brickwork of the kitchen and bathroom had been clad in weatherproof “beach-hut” boarding, painted in seaside blue. Water buts, potted plants, colour co-ordinated washing-line pegs, and solar-panels on the roof. There was probably a lot more, but it wasn’t a good photo and only showed the back of the house. Perhaps I’m just missing out by not buying Homebuilding & Renovating or wallpaper* magazines, but I was quite inspired by this single snap of what had been done.

Sell Worx:
Birmingham’s The Worx Artists Collective is inviting artists / designers / makers across the West Midlands to take part in the Brindley Place Arts Market (city-centre of Birmingham). More information from: robert.walsh@theworx.org.uk