The land now occupied by West Park in Wolverhampton was previously known as the Broad Meadows. Three years after Birmingham’s first park had opened it was suggested that a municipal park be laid out on the site. There was a desperate need for public open spaces to provide those living in the rapidly growing towns with opportunities for health recreation, but it did not become a reality in Wolverhampton as people had to had to wait until the summer of 1881 for the opening of what became known as West Park.
Throughout the development of the park many gifts were made to the park in the early years, including ducks and swans for the lake, several glacial boulders and a four faced clock. The park became a community project with members of the public coming together in many different ways to improve the look and feel of the park.
The park’s crowning glory, the conservatory, was built in 1896, with the proceeds of the town’s Floral Fete, held every year in the park. The large floral fete was then held in West Park between 1889 and 1939 and provided a place for people to exchange plants they had grown their own to raise money for the park and created a community event for everyone working within the area at the time. It got people from industrial communities to begin to appreciate nature by coming into the park for a community event but also gave them a sense of belonging as they all came together to raise funds for a space that could provide healing within the community.
Within my Offsite 9 project Plant fete I recreated the idea of the floral fete within West Park, highlighting the reparative history element of BAS9 as well as the tactics of togetherness through the actions of a plant swap. Using the form of the traditional fete stand i hosted a plant swap in which the public left and took away a variety of plants, mimicking the plant sales within the fetes that were once hosted to regenerate the park we see today.
The plant swap took plant over 5 days at Wolverhampton School of Art and West Park.
For video and images find out more here.