‘You never look up, do you, when you’re walking around a city?’
‘Nah, you need to check where you’re putting your feet…..and anyway, all the interesting stuff is at shop level.’
But, have a go and raise your eyes to some of the remarkable architecture that graces our city. Look beyond the chewing gum bedecked paving slabs, cast your eyes up past the gaudy, homogeneous shop signs and marvel at the mosaicked brickwork of buildings like Queen’s Chambers in Nottingham’s Market Square or Fothergill’s quaint house on George Street. Comparable with buildings in other more illustrious cities, these jewels quietly boast symmetry and originality with their blue and red bricks, arranged in carefully choreographed patterns. Evidence of Nottingham’s architect Watson Fothergill can be found throughout the city, but only if you dare to raise your face skywards.
Or eschew the bulk of the mighty lions, landmarks for many a blind-dater, and crick your neck upwards to where Grecian friezes parade across the front of the Council House in bold pastiche of ancient splendour. Featuring traditional local crafts such as bell founding, mining and alabaster carving, the labouring figures reach back to a time long before the likes of Debenhams and Primark, with their displays of eyeless haughty models and beckoning fashion .
Who would have thought that the different cultures were coexisting so unobtrusively in the heart of the city?
There’s another world up there in Nottingham, as in many cities throughout this country and beyond. It’s not secret but it is secreted behind sometimes dazzling, sometimes grimy, sometimes gaudy layers of decades of architectural and planning designs and disasters that make up our modern city and compete for our attention.
‘Take a look up there, then.’
‘What do you mean? Why?’
‘Just give it a try!’
Oculus – May 2017
Photos – Darren Turner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27035711