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In-Situ: Danger SignalS

Brierfield Railway Station acts as an important monument to the social and economic history of the town.

Many people who decided to settle in Brierfield traveled along this once prominent industrial route situated adjacent to Brierfield Mill. The station opened in 1849 and was a welcome addition to the landscape as a route to bring skilled workers to the town while also acting as a means to distribute materials from local mills on a global scale. The towns name itself derives from Briers (also known as berries) which still grow wild within the landscape at present.

Today, the mill is being redeveloped into new residential and retail spaces. During a residency at Brierfield Railway Station with In-Situ, North West artists Robert Parkinson and Sam Rushton wanted to explore the heritage of Brierfield, while also investigating the landscape and people of the town at present. One element of this was researching the Nelson Library Archive where the title, Danger SignalS, derived from. The image discovered was listed as ‘Co-op social event - Brierfield’ which features a custom garment mimicking train and industrial signage from around the 1920’s. Coinciding with this research; we held a series of open workshops which explored the vicinity of the station alongside the public transport and walking routes which revolved around ideas of ‘journey’ to-and-from the area. These included photography walks, psycho-geography illustrations, anthotypes (producing photographic prints from Brierfield berry extracts) and clay sculpture exercises (also extracted from the ground in Brierfield) while traveling on local transport routes. The workshops were accompanied with a workbook titled ‘Training Station’ which has a wide range of exercises to be completed externally from the workshops by anyone at any time.

During their residency, Robert and Sam explored the histories and geographies of Brierfield, meeting communities connected to and by the railway station, including at the Mosque and Northern Soul Club and Friends of Brierfield Station. Their activities have brought people together to explore and share their stories and relationships to the area, past and present, including a series of creative workshops.

Robert and Sam presented their findings through an exhibition at Brierfield Library. Titled Danger SignalS it brought together photography, archival materials and documentation, alongside work created with and by participants from the local community. The exhibition title is taken from an archive image listed as ‘Co-op social event – Brierfield’, which features a custom garment mimicking train and industrial signage from the 1920s.

This publication acts as a facsimile of the public installation and was released as part of the closing event at the exhibition. The design concept for the book reflects train journeys, what one sees through train windows as one travels. It was created using riso prints in purple of Robert and Sam's photography, scanned in at 800dpi and arranged in various collages to reflect the journey I took through the North West when working on the project. 

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