Drawing The Past

In addition to collecting stories about Scarborough’s former attractions, Stories From Scarborough has also been experimenting with more creative ways to present Scarborough’s history, including:

A chairlift costume

A fictional character

A third Hispaniola

Sandcastle memorials

Water samples

Replica signs

Many of the experiments never make it online, and a significant number are posted on my artist website.

More recently I’ve been drawing. Often archival images are not available to reproduce – however, drawing is permissible, and has allowed me to share with you some of the images I can’t post as photographs due to licensing regulations. I can also do a little editing of my own, such as change the viewpoint, or remove obstacles (such as cars). In this post are some examples of the work so far.

Just in case you’re wondering – all these drawing are on the back of old printouts. I’m a big fan of recycling and low on money. And after all, they are merely experiments.

Kinderland

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

Kinderland stood on Burniston Road between 1985 and 2007. Here we can see the distinctive clock tower in the background, the cafe and gift shop on the left and the indoor play area on the right. In the centre, is a wishing well, alongside a tyre swing and helter skelter-style slide.

This reader recalls the attraction in exquisite detail – click here for his memories.

The Historic Water Chute And Boating Lake

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

The water chute opened in 1932, and is still in operation today. It was owned by Kinderland between 1985 and 2007, but is now owned by the North Bay Railway Company. Likewise the boating lake has a similar history – its original fleet of small motorised boats were originally based at the North Bay Bathing Pool.

The Mere

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

One of the last vestiges of the great Lake Pickering, the Mere was developed into a tourist spot during the early 1900s, initially serving keen anglers, then boasting a whole host of activities including boating, water-skiing, a dry ski slope and, of course, the Hispaniola. It has since become a quieter place once more, still popular with fishing enthusiasts.

The Hispaniola

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

From 1949 until 1993, the Hispaniola took children to Treasure Island to dig for gold doubloons. Now it sails along the South Bay, minus pirates or treasure.

A kind reader donated some pictures of the Hispaniola (and the Mere) here.

The Madhouse

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

A bizarre little attraction on the Sandside, next to where the Princess Cafe stands today. Open from the 1970s until the early 1990s, little documentation of this wacky place survives. It is now the Penny Arcade Amusements.

The Turkish Baths

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

On Scarborough Foreshore stands Coney Island Amusements, once adorned with the name of Scarborough’s fairground entrepreneur Jimmy Corrigan. During the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a spectacular World Of Holograms on the first floor. However, back in 1859, the building was originally designed to be a Turkish bathing house, called the Bland’s Cliff Baths.

Recently I’ve been adding colour to some of my drawings – see some of them here on my artist website.

Marvel’s: A New Playground?

This is the tenth in a series of posts about artistic responses to former Scarborough attractions.

To view the others, please click here.

As I mentioned in this post, the current (derelict) Marvel’s site is an eerie place. The broken glass, empty beer cans, graffiti and scorch marks suggest a radical departure from the amusement park of old. And, indeed, its predecessor Scarborough Zoo.

Above: Marvel’s used to be here – only remnants are left (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I wondered if it would be possible to reclaim this place as a cheerful, colourful scene – a space for fun, games and creativity. In a bid to find out, I made an early morning visit, donned my childhood costume and tested out some ideas.

Above: Returning to Marvel’s, over a decade after it closed (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Derelict sites can be thrilling places for children. Often designated as dangerous and out of bounds by adults, there is a certain allure to crumbling structures and overgrown fixtures; even more so when you’re not supposed to be there.

Above: Sneaking in to play games with a Kinderland frisbee (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

My character, in part represents that naughty child.

Above: Vandalised chairlift strut – and a childhood protest (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The question is, does she want Marvel’s back?

Above: A makeshift protest? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Or is she looking for the Zoo?

Above: The Zoo disappeared over twenty years ago (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Perhaps it’s just trouble that she’s after.

Above: Scrapping with a playmate? Or herself? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

As an artist I want Stories From Scarborough to be more than just a collection of memories.

Above: Where did the Go-Gator go? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The memories are of course vitally important – they are the base, the stories that need recording before people forget. But they are also starting points for new ideas, for new ways of thinking about the lost attractions.

Above: Memories are not fixed, or solid – they are blurry, fluid and changeable (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: As time passes, these moments become shadowy, like ghosts (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I like to think that this project will eventually become a melting pot of ideas; ranging from straightforward recollections to strange stories. Fact and fiction, all mixed up. After all, this is what memory is – a combination of things that may have actually happened, coloured with generalisations, editing and pure invention.

Above: A haunted landscape? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Ultimately these ghosts of the past are rooted in imagination – childhood memories in particular often end up bestowed with a mythical status; a nostalgia for the past that the present and future can never hope to match. This project has already changed my own memories of Scarborough beyond recognition – instead of strengthening nostalgia’s hold, it has opened up a complex chasm of questions. Now I’m asking, what exactly is it that I really remember? Why do others remember what they do? And how might these stories be written and rewritten into Scarborough’s landscapes?

The Making of a Chairlift

When I started planning Stories From Scarborough, back in late 2013, one of the first ideas I had was to make a wearable chairlift.

Above: Design for a wearable chairlift (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The bright red chairlifts, that took passengers from Scarborough North Bay to Marvel’s Amusement Park in the 1980s and 1990s (and to Scarborough Zoo in the 1970s), remain vividly in my memory. As a child, it was incredibly thrilling to travel at what then seemed like a great height towards an exciting-looking fairground.

Above: Family photograph of the chairlift (from the author’s personal collection)

However, constructing such a structure is by no means a straightforward task, especially for someone with little expertise in making big 3D objects.

My first task was to understand the shape.

Above: Drawing the chairlift (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I made lots of drawings – at the time I didn’t have any red pens or pencils to hand, so used some red electrical tape that I happened to come across.

Fortunately the colour was just right!

After making the drawings I constructed some crude models using cardboard, tape, wire – any materials I could find really. Following considerable frustration and research I decided to make the frame using withies – often used in the construction of lanterns. I wanted something that was lightweight and malleable, but also reasonably strong.

The original chairlifts would likely have been made from fibreglass or something similarly robust. Alas, my budget does not allow for such extravagant spending! Nor will my chairlift be required to carry passengers at great heights.

Above: Withies, masking tape, wire and string (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Rather than attempt the complex shape of the top from the outset, I settled for a simple cone-like form, over which I could then add further layers. Following this I covered the form in newspaper to get a better sense of the shape.

Above: The top – with newspaper (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

With a better sense of the shape I added a thin layer of modroc, more newspaper and then, in a surprising twist, red electrical tape!

Above: Adding the tape (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

After the serendipitous success of the tape on my drawings, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t use the tape to create an interesting cover to my chairlift. 100% accuracy was never my aim in making this object – I simply wanted to create a likeness, with my own weird creative stamp on it.

Above: The two halves (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Many rolls of red tape later, I had two halves of a chairlift. Using garden canes attached to the bottom, I created a frame onto which the top could sit. Trouble was, the top didn’t want to sit in place – I spent a great deal of time messing with parcel tape (my newest solution to securing fragile joins) and pulling pieces apart before deciding to keep the top and bottom separate for transport purposes – I’m in Manchester right now and need to get this thing to Scarborough somehow this summer. And I don’t own a car.

Above: Trying out the costume (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Luckily I could hold the whole thing up as a costume without too much difficulty. All that remained was a great deal of tidying up, taping and securing bits and pieces. In the meantime I was also thinking about other uses for the chairlift (besides the costume idea).

Above: A new idea? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I imagined suspending the chairlift somewhere as an exhibition piece/sculpture – I could attach things to it, like memories of Marvel’s or references to former use of the site (it was once a zoo, and before that tennis courts…I’ve also heard rumours of a roller skating area).

Above: The chairlift as a sculpture/exhibition piece (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

In the end I attached balloons to the top. Just because.

I’ll be exhibiting a version of this in Manchester this June, as a sort of public introduction to the project.

When I arrive in Scarborough I hope to do this with it:

To see more of my art work, including previous projects, please visit my website and art blog.