Although the conversations I had with various members of the council's Valuing Older People contingent at workshops held in November 2010 were helpful in assessing how older people perceive the city, it did not generate a project for me. Instead, based on my previous interest in the flying trapeze, Emily Crompton introduced me to Owen Gaynor, a circus skills instructor whose company, Circus Diaspora, needed a home. Following an initial meeting with him and participation in a few of his weekly skills classes, I was able to build up an understanding of exactly what his needs were, to experience first-hand the limitations of reaching new students and the need for a permanent base. In order to investigate how people interact with the idea of play in their everyday city routines — and therefore the likely success of a portable circus — I built a vertical ping pong table and wheeled it to Piccadilly Gardens. Throughout the day, in which I asked people to play a short game of ping pong with me, I was able to observe who was not physically confident, and therefore which people needed encouraging by Owen. The process of designing, building and using a portable typology also highlighted the limitations of a moveable circus and the need for a permanent home for the circus. The video made to document this event was exhibited in the Future Everything 2011 "Ping Pong Club Symposium" arts festival in Manchester this year:


5th Year
Aged 23
My Review of the Year

This year's project was established following and introduction to Owen Gaynor, a circus skills instructor who runs a mobile community circus skills company, in need of a more permanent home. Through experimentation with play in the city and research into the situation of UK circus troupes, I proposed that the circus could exist both permanently and as a portable typology around the city. In order to encourage the students of the Circus Diaspora to spatially outline their perfect circus, I built a 1:100 scale model and took it to several of Owen's classes. Using their contributions, I drafted proposals for the ultimate Manchester circus, yet through several phases of re-drawing it became apparent that there is could be no single solution. Instead an adaptable, demountable, structure within an existing building would allow them to efficiently change their space according to their needs. I therefore proposed to install demountable scaffolding-based structures within the confines of a rented warehouse on an industrial estate in Ardwick. The scaffolding allows inexpensive modifications to space which provide a stimulating, inspiring and dramatic space for teaching and performing. Following my most recent meeting with and the members of the Circus House, the troupe have decided to use my proposals to secure an Arts Council interview, in order that the Circus House may receive the financial support they require to occupy a permanent home.

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