Just thought I should post up the response (3rd June) from The City of London Authority, Assistant Traffic Manager – re my proposed idea for a temporary ‘Park’ space on the roof of the Whites Row Carpark, as this should explain why the proposal ground to a halt…

Dear Mr Rosenthal

There are a number of considerations that will need to be taken into account before we could allow your project to take place.

Risk Assessments: You will need to provide a comprehensive risk assessment. As the car park will have a high turn over of moving vehicles, your risk assessment will need to clearly outline what measures you intend to put in place to safe guard the safety of pedestrians. The risk assessment will need to be approved by the City’s Environmental Health Department to ensure it meets the required standards.

Traffic Management Plan: You will need to provide a traffic management plan that will outline the signage you intend to use to manage traffic and pedestrian flows within the car park.

Stewarding Plan: Your plan will need to show the stewarding arrangements you intend to put in place (such as directional advice to visitors). This will be required to ensure the safety of the car park users and any visitors to your exhibition.

Planning Permission: You may need to apply for planning permission as there will be a temporary change in use of the car park. I would therefore recommend you seek early advice on this.

Noise: You will need to consult with Tower Hamlets Environmental Health Service (Noise Pollution team). They will need to be reassured that nearby residents will be not be adversely affected by the noise, and that you have a procedure in place to deal with complaints and objections should they arise.

Indemnity: You will be required to indemnify the City against any damage sustained as a result of your temporary occupation of the car park. The cost of this is currently £300.

Public Liability Insurance: As the City’s Public Liability insurance does not cover such activities in a car park you will need your own liability insurance; a copy of the insurance certificate will be needed for the City’s insurers.

Advertising: You should note that the City does not allow advertising so you project must be free from all promotional materials

Parking Charges: There may be a cost incurred for the occupation of the parking spaces, which for White’s Row car park will be £28 per day per space. Concessions may apply if you are a registered charitable organisation.

Cleaning: There may be a cost for additional cleaning as a result of an increase in footfall traffic.

Security: The City of London Corporation would not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage sustained to your vehicle, equipment etc whilst using the car park

With regard to risk assessments, traffic management and stewarding plans, there are professional companies that can assist you with these. If you do not already have a company nominated, please let me know and I will endeavour to provide you some contact names and numbers. Once you have taken all the above factors into account, please contact me again so your request can be given further consideration. Unfortunately until we are in receipt of essential information such as risk assessments, insurance details and traffic management plans we are not in a position to say whether or not the car park can be used for your project.

Regards.

Paul Symons
Assistant Traffic Manager
Department of Environmental Services, City of London

Out Of Office – Reply

June 17, 2011

Hi Nida it’s Steve Thanks for your latest – I love your photographs.. you’ve gone undercover!!
I was thinking re the stencil idea that
a) as you say does it matter that there’s a language barrier
and
b) if so, perhaps the stencil could be like a ‘I heart NY’ t-shirt (ie just the I, a heart, and a U… might his help cross the linguistic barrier??
I shall head back to Vallance Gardens tomorrow and the I Love U tree and see what knew may arise
Enjoy your weekend
Best wishes from a grey and damp London
Steve

Hi Nida

Thanks once again for getting this exchange up and posted on the blog. The last section about the Taweez being tied in the tree is very interesting. Would they be solely religious or could they have been tied there for other reasons?

As I said I’m thinking of collecting the names of those who people would like to tell that they love them. Perhaps I could send those names to the shrine tree in Lahore and they could be tied to the tree as a symbol of the lengths we will go to for the ones that we love? And perhaps you could send something in exchange, to be tied to the tree here in London?? Although now looking at a picture of the I Love U tree (inserted below) all the branches are pretty high so that may be rather difficult (as my tree climbing days are not at their best!!…) but perhaps we could find a way of tying some Taweez to it in a cultural exchange. And whilst I am still considering the balloon idea that we’ve discussed previously, I am not sure how it could/should manifest itself (ie for what precise purpose, or whether, like love, it may be doomed to uncertainty and potential failure..) Maybe we could release balloons/a single balloon at both locations simultaneously…? Or perhaps I could send something through the mail to the tree… Maybe I send you a replica stencil of ‘I LOVE U’ and you could stencil your tree with ‘I LOVE U I LOVE U I LOVE U’??

I really think we should push this on and find a way of exchanging something that we’re both happy with… Let me know your thoughts

And, as always, best wishes

Steve

Through the Skype session with our cross-continental counterparts a viable connection has begun to emerge between my chosen site – the I LOVE U, I LOVE U, I LOVE U tree here in London at Vallance Gardens (a shrine to love if ever there was one) and the shrine to the ‘hidden holy person’ (with two trees growing out of it) that Nida is working with in Lahore, and  it made me think of the poem The Garden of Love by William Blake (which I’ll insert below), and was probably written to express his beliefs on the naturalness of sexuality, and how religions  of his time (specifically the Orthodox Christian Church) with their preaching and rules (not much changes really), caused the repression of natural desires. A really brave statement to make for his time (and one which still carries resonance) to challenge the foundations of such a powerful institution, making specific attacks on the Anglican church with the mention of ‘chapel’ and ‘priests’. Blake’s indignation at his subject matter is clear, when he talks about seeing ‘what I had never seen’. It is interesting that he says he has ‘never’ seen it when he must have grown up being aware of the Church’s attitude to sexuality. It might then be inferred that he’s speaking from the view point of innocence, ie – one who has just entered the world of sexual experience and is in a state of shock and sadness at how his previous freedoms have been blocked and squashed…

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys & desires.

 

(Update) I’ve also contacted the recently created City Arts Initiative at The Corporation of London regarding the car-park site at Whites Row (where the slice line runs diagonally through the entire length of the structure) to see if it might be possible, with their support and assistance, to collaboratively create a tiny, temporary, high-rise green oasis or park (a ‘car-PARK’) intervention, on the top-floor open-air level, in a bay (or bays) – with grass turf, a bench, maybe a deck-chair or two, and some potted trees etc with the city skyline as its backdrop…. I will wait to see if they a) like the proposal and b) can help me orchestrate the intervention…

Responding to Sundays sun-soaked walk along the London Slice-line I’m now in possession of a handful of potential sites that will certainly need further investigation, and which could act as possible starting points towards making of a new piece of work.

The first site is the ‘brash’ multi-storey car-park, owned by the Corporation of London, which spans between Crispin Street and Commercial Street. The slice line runs diagonally through the car-parks entire length – so could become a vast ‘canvas’ for a large piece of work running the length of the utilitarian concrete structure. I spoke briefly with the on duty car-park attendant to ascertain if it’s possible to access the top floor area and he assured me that it is. I’ll now need to re-visit the site when time is not so rushed to discover what potential the roof top holds; then contacting landlords might be in order to negotiate what could be possible there…

The second possibility is at the site of a home-printed ‘Stolen’ notice, taped to the railings, at the junction of  Henage Street and Spelman Street. Attracted to the surreal logistics of stealing an orange metal staircase, the disabled woman potentially trapped in her home without it, and whether it has, as requested, been returned  or any reward given… Perhaps my dialing the mobile number might throw some light on the event or lead on to somewhere interesting…

My third site is the electrical light-box estate plan located within the Chicksand Housing Estate (that runs along Hanbury Street towards Valance Road). Drawn to both the utilitarian nature of the object and the abstract hand-painted yellow rectangles, depicting the 4 various housing blocks, offset by the circular sticker residue – I may re-visit this site at night to see if the sign actually illuminates – and if so how that might change the objects dynamic.

My fourth site (and possibly the most immediately resonant) is the ‘I Love U, I Love U, I Love U’ tree, located by the north eastern exit of the small laid-to-grass ‘Vallance Gardens’ park (east of Vallance Road and north of Wodeham Gardens). The simple poetic shrine of affectionate declaration could certainly lead on towards something worth pursuing – being simultaneously specifically local and yet eternally universal…

The final site is not illustrated here. Situated at the tail-end of the slice, heading east beyond the parameters of our slice-line, the work could become a directional street-furniture signpost, pointing towards ‘Wonderland’ (the now long-gone Yiddish theatre, with a colourful history of varied amusement, located around the corner from the end of the slice-line on Whitechapel Road). Considering the number of artists engaged with the project that have had or continue to have a performative background, plus the notion of pointing off, somewhere not seen, beyond the confines of the slice-line toward a place of potential fantasy might yet prove both a starting point for some new work and a fitting end to the slices trajectory… Over the next month my research will be centered around the above locations yet may extend further onto other sites following return visits to the slice-line.

Engaging briefly with the artists assembled on Sunday, such a diversely interesting and eclectic bunch, with widely varying individual practices, will undoubtedly make for a stimulating dynamic to the heart of project. And that a Skype connection with Lahore was eventually achieved, enabling our two very distinct worlds to briefly collide was a pleasing end to the day. I’m looking forward to viewing on-line the initial ideas generated in Pakistan to discover whether any unforced cross-continental collaborations might potentially emerge…