Wonder Land: researching existing public interactive art that invites sliding, swinging and climbing

I’ve been asking people to tell me about interactive public art that has been intended for climbing on, swinging on or sliding down, with 24 hour access for free in the UK and there’s nothing, except children’s outdoor parks. My travel grant covers research; since I can’t use it for visiting similar things to my idea, I could use it to visit stuff that has an element of what Wonder Land is about. For example, I could visit an outdoor children’s adventure playground that used recycled materials in the build, or a public sculpture that uses recycled materials or invites interaction in a thoughtful way.

I spoke to Matt Page (Moving Image Technician) and he told me about a public sculpture in Berlin that is formed of individual plinths set in rows that form corridors; it commemorates holocaust victims so people aren’t allowed to climb on the plinths but people play Pac-man in the corridors. Another branch of my research, therefore, is looking at how people use public sculpture. A brief internet search shows there is some controversy surrounding the sculpture – click on the photograph to go to a news story about it.


I visited the yurt (temporary relaxing space in uni of Brighton, Grand Parade garden) at lunch time and talked to Sara, Mikey and some girls (whose names I didn’t ask – so rude of me!) from the third year sculpture course about my research. Sara offered her services as project manager if I can get funding for Wonder Land and asked if I have a Go Pro camera, which led to the idea of time lapse filming of the build. Mikey told me about Martin Creed’s current exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, which I checked online: the exhibition has been extended until Monday 5 May 2014 but it costs £11. Click the photo for  information about the show. I wonder how I can gain free entry?


Sara, Mikey and I also chatted about Carsten Höller’s test site exhibit at the Tate Modern in 2006. Mikey saw it and her son rode the fifth floor slide; she said he confirmed it was exhilarating. We talked of how a sculpture you can swing, slide and climb on could relieve depressive symptoms. I found some books and a DVD on Carsten Höller at St Peter’s House Library and I’m going to use them for further research. Click the photo to go to an interview with Höller on the Tate Modern website.


The third year sculpture students told me about a children’s park at Bletchley that has a dinosaur slide (with urban/graffiti colours) and a graduate sculpture student from last year, Carly Jayne, who made a swing for interactive public use in her second year show. The closest thing I could find to the dinosaur slide was this:


I found Carly Jayne’s swing here:


It’s the closest thing so far to my intention for Wonder Land.

As I was sitting in the yurt, feeling much more relaxed than when I’m outside of it, I realised I’d like to incorporate some quiet, contemplative space into Wonder Land. This is a photo of the inside of the yurt:


Later, at home, I checked Facebook to see if there were any replies to my question, “does anyone know of any public interactive art in England that is fun to climb, slide or swing on and is free to use?” Ezra shared a link to a Guardian article about Dalston House: the building that lets you defy gravity. The piece was exhibited in summer 2013.


I also found a link to a happening in Bristol this coming Sunday (4 May 2014); Luke Jerram is turning Park Street in Bristol into a giant water slide:


Although it’s fun, interactive and free, it’s temporary and ticketed. The artist used crowdsourcing to pay for the event and liaised with council officials to arrange it.




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