Friday, 1 June 2007

A Lunchtime Derive- Part 2

“ Let yourself be drawn to places, look up, down and note any encounters you make along the way be they architectural, human, flora or fauna. Pick up found objects. Take every interaction as an opportunity to feed into the record of your journey”.

A ‘lunchtime derive’. Maidstone. 11th May 2007. 12.30pm. Meeting Point: outside the Tourist Information office.

Walking to meet, Laura, Lou, Nina and Bill I had a sense of a coming together, a gathering. Four people arriving from different places around the town to walk and share their experience of Maidstone. This feeling was probably made more acute as I was travelling amongst a throng of shoppers, like a salmon swimming against the current.

Notepads handed out, cameras and camera phones. Instructions read and digested.

Below you will find the algorithm for your Dérive:
2nd Right
2nd Right
1st Left
Start from any point near the centre of town, ie. Outside the tourist information office and follow the algorithm above. Try to find a spot you are drawn to, make a note of it, and the reason you were drawn to that spot. If you come to a dead end return to a point where you can resume with the formula. Allow yourself to be drawn in new and interesting directions.
Make a note of the route you take and the various atmospheres and ambiences you experience. You may find that what constitutes the ‘2nd Right’ or 1st Left is sometimes open to interpretation. Make a note of these moments of indecision and the reason you choose the turning you do.

Have fun, the derive is a playful-constructive activity.

“Psychogeography was merely a preparation, a reconnaissance for the day when the city would be seized for real.” Simon Sadler, The Situationist City

The Beginning

Louise goes south, Nina east, Bill north and Laura west. My aim is to follow one and come across all at some point but this proves difficult and I end up drifting off my course. I become aware of being part of an act, a survey being carried out and something unknown being collected.

Pudding Lane

Hat in Earl Street

Salvation in Week Street laura

Forty minutes later we meet back where we started. One at a time they arrive at the start. Nina first.

First year video student from UCCA. Nina’s from Oslo and used to an urban town. She finds Maidstone small and has only been here since September. She regularly comes into town but follows a similar route each time. Over the bridge from Lockmeadow, up the High Street, into Fremlin Walk or through Market Buildings. Or up the high street and through the chequers centre to Sainsbury’s and then home. Back the same way. She started her derive in the opposite direction to where she normally walks. This is her account.

“Down Bank street with small shops and bars. Near Chicago Rock Café. Road work. Lots of construction noises (managed to loose derive instructions on the way). Turned 2nd right near Barclays Bank. Road on left hand. Turned 2nd right again after Drakes pub, up Medway street. Feels like a back alley without anything special. Old House at Home is in front of me. The whole building looks amazing so old, so cosy and next to it is the Tea Room with the same style. Turn 1st left onto Pudding Lane “Gates” to Fremlin Walk in front of me. Then I turn 1st left again just by a photography store (which sells lots of old, and new cameras and equipment). I come to a parking lot to “the courtyard”, which apparently is a service which helps out people with disabilities and psychological issues. But the whole building is just amazing. In front it looks really clean and “summery” with palm trees but on the side it looks old and very special with art."


Pudding Lane

Bank St

Bill arrives a couple of minutes later. Bill’s from Greece and is a 2nd year video student at UCCA.

“High Street: Beautiful, sunny day, Gabriels Hill full of people. Small path next to the hills entrance seems “neglected”, “unnoticed”. Interesting angles. Stairs. Dead End: A closed door leading to the Chequers Shopping Centre. Full of graffiti. I decide to take the first right instead of the second. Path leading to a lower level, behind the buildings. First left: Another dead end: A door leading to the inside of The Mall.

I decide to take the first right and follow my algorithm from the beginning.

Mysterious small street at the back of High Street’s building. Tranquillity. A man smoking/taking a break. The street leads straight to Grabriels Hill right in front of a Kebab Restaurant. It is a rather “voyeuristic” view.


I decide to move down Gabriel’s Hill, restarting the algorithm. Second right: At Maidstone’s main street, parallel to High Street. Second Right: Another small, tranquil street."

Bills photo

Bills photo

Bills photo


Bill really enjoyed the derive. He was amazed by the amount of alleyways and once taken the amazing quiet, leaving the buzz of street life behind.”

Laura and Louise have lived in Maidstone most of their lives.

Louise comes back first and is surprised that even though she knows the town well the experience threw up some interesting surprises. The fact that the algorithm kept taking her back to Fremlin Walk, even though she desperately wanted to go somewhere else. Even though she didn’t want to linger in Market Buildings as she felt she knew it well there were still things to draw her attention.

“High Street, Pudding Lane, buses, pollution, traffic.

Pudding Lane, lots of warning signs. Quaint T-shop.

Fremlin Walk – House of Fraser. Dead end. Corporate, clean. Plastic plants, brick walls shopping, lots of shopping. Souless.

Fremlin Walk. Drawn to open circular space. View of museum, people sitting/chatting. Framed architecture.

Back to route – officials – suits – purple/grey/beige

Back to Fremlin – don’t want to go back – turn back on steps towards Pudding Lane.

Medway street – rooftops and car parks.

Avis car hire – beautiful buildings, gated swamped by Fremlin Walk.

Fairmeadow – over lights to river – walk blocked by barrier. River to my right narrowing path – decide to take it – bit scared. Risked life crossing the road to aspects – new development oasis of tranquillity beside a dual carriageway!”

Fremlin Walk

Fremlin Walk

Pudding Lane

Laura followed.

"Windy street, bright sunlight.

1st picture – deadend 1st left gated entrance ended up in public toilets! Bizarre sign – “please don’t take the toilet seats”.

Deadend – alleyway took me into back of Yumm Yumm’s! Secret passageway – smelly drains! Looks from people, started filming. Drawn to one yellow brick painted on side of building. Started again at end of Rose Yard/Earl Street area. Through busy town up side road – quiet courtyard back of buildings – tree lined (James Court).

Turned up Union street, deadend. Church entrance. Drawn to ophthalmic. Sad building, lots of memories as a child."


We exchanged photos and videos, ate a sandwich and each departed in separate directions.

On the way home I found this sitting on a wall outside Kent CC offices.

home and away2

No comments:

Site Meter