The Comedy Carpet – Outdoor Literacy at its Best!

6 November 2011 · 2 comments

in Literacy Outdoors

Doing literacy activities outside is no joke… or may be it should be! This weekend I was able to visit the recently-opened Comedy Carpet in Blackpool.

It’s a tribute to British comedians who have performed in Blackpool, the traditional entertainment capital of Britain. Set in a specially made bright white concrete are approximately 180 000 letters that spell out their known catchphrases, gags, punchlines and jokes. The black and red letters are granite stone. The blue ones are made from cobalt-coloured concrete.

Above the title is perhaps the most famous catch phrase of all…

It has to be one of the most absorbing public works of art I have ever seen. There is so much to read…and laugh about! It can be a challenge to work out who said what, for someone like me who doesn’t always keep up with the entertainment world.

Whilst children and visitors from abroad may not understand nor recognise every clip, the sheer size of the work is enticing… the text, font, colours and layout all celebrate what is best about British entertainment. Blackpool is all about how we play in Britain… and this artwork definitely turns words into play…

The Comedy Carpet is easily accessible by everyone and anyone. At any one time, it was possible to see people of all ages wandering about…

It is smooth enough to dance on, or wheel a buggy about. This is quite an important feature as the Carpet is sited on the headland which will regularly host live events for 20,000 people.

The design construction involved making sections, most of which are 2x4m in size. The design for each section was printed out backwards and the letters and typographic decoration laid out on top. The concrete was poured over and left to set in the mould. After that, steel supports were put in using more concrete. When the section was eventually removed from the mould, the surface was ground to create a uniform finish… just perfect for a group of children scooting around…

…whilst ignoring some of the cheekier comments…!

Whilst some of the language is definitely on the uncouth and un-pc side, I think it’s part of the appeal. Many children rather like looking for lots of swear words which have little asterisks to make them permissible… there were quite a few in Billy Connolly’s section! For pre-readers, there’s a lot of fun exploration too, such as simple designs…

And lots of alliteration and rhyme…

Cyclists even stopped for a look…

And most people were completely absorbed by the work or enjoyed just passing some time of day there…

The Blackpool Tower is at the foot of the Comedy Carpet. You can climb up the first couple of levels for free to get a bird’s eye view. Sadly the Council did not allow the work to be completed. It was meant to extend across the tramway. However, I think there was concerns about this causing accidents.

The artists and construction workers and everyone else who was involved all have their names written in stars around the title too…

The Comedy Carpet was created by Gordon Young in partnership with Why Not Associates – a British graphic design company. He’s done many interesting public artworks and it’s worth looking at his website for visual art and literacy inspiration. For more information about Comedy Carpet, then the actual website tells you much more about the artist, the designer and the carpet of concrete.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lesley Romanoff November 6, 2011 at 12:05

This is a very cool destination! The mind boggles thinking of all the very cool projects that can be created regarding words underfoot!

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Juliet Robertson November 6, 2011 at 22:01

It really does! I believe Blackpool Council intend to put together some useful activities for all ages.

Also a film is being made about the Comedy Carpet and its construction – it was an interesting process by all accounts, not least owing to the sheer size and complexity of the design as well as the construction process.

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