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Jon Adams organises some beautiful flag-fields for Open Weekend / 23 July 2010

Races and Flags. Image © Jon Adams

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Just in from a busy but quite fabulous day number ‘one’ of Open Weekend flag fielding alongside the University Staff sports day. Am sitting adding the days pictures to the Facebook groups and other people have started to do so too! For us the day started at 8:12am woken by the usual noise’s from over in Fratton station. This was a bit late for me, mainly because I was tired. I didn’t get in from the gallery trip until late, then had sort stuff for the flag making and the train had been so packed I couldn’t relax.

After some web work on the Flags Facebook group and last minute finding some ‘forgotten items’ we got out the house anxiously looking at the cloudy and somewhat dark sky. First stop my University space to pick up the book pages I had cut earlier in the week. The University Library sends some books to Africa and some they give away. I kind of like the irony of using books labelled as ‘withdrawn’ as it fits how I used to be (and still am sometimes) and gladly collected some a few days before. Next stop the Civic offices to collect some ‘Open Weekend’ cards and stickers to give away to ‘flag makers’.

For once it was a short walk from the car to the area in the park where the University Sports day was taking place. I was quite pleased when I saw where as it was the same space I had taken some ‘promotion and test’ flag pictures two years before.

After introductions to the sports department staff we set up by their large tent (still an eye on the weather) and started planting a couple of hundred flags made at a recent figure ground event in London to start it off. twenty minutes later they were the first events pictures up on line on the Open Weekend Facebook group – the wonders of ‘netbooks’ and ‘mobile web’. There was even another ‘Flag field’ created by the Library staff just in front of main entrance which meant other people were just ‘doing it’ and joining in. They said that when they were planting a man had called over the fence and asking if they were planting book pages to see if they grew into books.

People started arriving and we were in business; explaining¬†'Open Weekend’ as we busily made and planted flags. Then as sports day commenced people drifted over between events all afternoon sitting in between the growing field of flags – even looking to see what was written on them.

As well as competitors and staff we also attracted some children on their way home from school, a pair of university security officers. Some muslims who had arrived to pray in the park also came over and made some flags, which added to the richness and diversity of the piece – an artwork anyone can take part in. No pretention, no discrimination, people can just join in.

One passing Fine Art lecturer from the university, took to the idea with mischievous glee and started ‘expanding’ the physical limits of the piece, leaving ‘flags’ hidden behind trees and in flower beds quite a distance from the main piece. I am still not sure if we got them all?

After the prize giving, people started to leave and we took the opportunity to photograph the flags before we ‘picked’ them and took them away. These will be flown again at Chatham along with the flags from Whitstable. All in all during the day we made and planted about 500+ flags and to our relief the weather held off too.