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?