The project was managed by John Naylor of Groundwork Cumbria and Steve Chettle Artsuk then of Cleveland Arts for the Sustrans in 1993. Sustrans, the charity for sustainable transport, started in 1977 in Bristol aiming to bring about safe cycling routes mainly on the sites of old railway lines away from the ever growing dangers of road traffic.
This particular route is the start of the C2C and my work was situated on the Whitehaven to Ennerdale section in West Cumbria.
The aim was to give local children and people at large a sense of ownership of the newly converted rail track to cycle way. The work had not been damaged when I went back ten years later and I think it proved the value of involving local people in a project at an early stage.
The commission was to make a series of twelve marker posts along the Whitehaven to Ennerdale Sustrans cyclepath. Schools most local to access control points at various points of around one mile along the cyclepath were involved. I used the idea of the ABC of Local Distinctiveness, a concept from the bed-rock of Common Ground for the first time. Children from all the schools went out to their allocated Markers to note what they saw making visual interpretations of their field notes back in their classrooms. It was amazing how easily the themes developed through their drawings perhaps with the exception of the one secondary school involved; the most interesting thing about their drawings were the signatures at the bottom left hand side of the pages so that became the subject matter. Images relate to the practice of pigeon flying, farming, animals, bicycles and local wildlife and figures. In one instant one of the children’s images, a pizza made the perfect structure for one of the markers.