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The Mobile Institute

September 9, 2009

Projects – The Park Bench Reader. 2008.

A public realm performance for the inaugural This Is Not A Gateway festival 2008. The Institute will be doing a new version of this performance for this years festival in Spitalfields in October 2009. To participate or for more information please email

Gillet Square. Dalston.

In the year of Thomas Hardy’s birth on Wednesday September 16th, 1840 Joseph Strutt opened the first municipal park to the public. And with it came the park bench. On Sunday 23rd March 2006 I enlisted the help of six volunteers to commemorate this collision by reading out loud from six of his works on six park benches that were situated near to each other in the grounds of Dartington Hall, South Devon. The piece interacted with the environment, with the students of the college and with members of the public strolling past first one bench, then another and another, each alive with a different Thomas Hardy tale.

In September 2008 I, as part of The Mobile Institute along with several other individuals took to Gillet Square in the heart of Dalston and read aloud from a variety of works on London. From George Orwells’ 1936 novel ‘Keep The Aspidistra Flying’ to Monica Alis’ ‘Brick Lane’ and Iain Sinclairs’ ‘Lights Out For The Territory’. This 40minute intervention into the public realm sought to mingle these layers of history and fiction live, over the palimpsest of East London, exploring ideas of interpretation, public space, and the levels of interaction to which Londoners are willing to expose themselves.

A secondary performance was delivered in the Vortex Jazz bar the next afternoon. A segment of text from each of the works read aloud had been taken and woven together by myself for a public oration performed by the Institute and its honorary members.

Keep The Aspidistra Flying

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