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13 November 2014

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You are in: Devon > People > Your stories > Freewheeling art

Sue Austin

White line artist Sue Austin

Freewheeling art

Sue Austin heads a small group of artists who have taken to the streets of Plymouth and have certainly made their mark and left a trail of debate behind them.

Head down towards the University in Plymouth and you'll notice some white lines weaving across pavements and roads, leading away from the Roland Levinsky building into town.

The lines are the work of three fine art students, part of Freewheeling, who all want to challenge the concept of public and private space and leave their temporary trace on the city's streets.

The trio are in the final year of their degree course and are all intent on creating a talking point, while leading you from A to B.

White lines on road

Sue's wheelchair route into Plymouth city centre

There are single white lines, double lines and even a spiral line made out of grass. The tracks lead from the university, into town and down to the Barbican, along the Hoe and into Stonehouse, stopping or starting, whichever way you want to look at it, at the Royal William Yard, the art department's other campus.

For one of the artists, Sue Austin, from Hatherleigh, the lines are all about reshaping people's conception of wheelchairs, which she believes can be quite negative.

Sue moved to Devon from the Midlands 14 years ago and started using a wheelchair after a prolonged illness. She wants to make her images fun and positive.

"The object of the wheelchair is the public gaze - which means enabling people to see wheelchairs in a new way that creates positive associations of freedom and play.

"I've seen children playing on the lines, adults looking at them and even pigeons walking along them."

Sue Austin

Sue creates double white lines through the city

The white lines have certainly drawn people's attention, but not all for the right reasons.

Jack Morris, another member of Freewheeling, says they have had to jump through a lot of hoops to get all their art work, quite literally, on the ground.

"We wanted people to have fun moving from one art campus to the other.

"If we're going to form new perspectives then we have to push the boundaries."

He and a friend went round the city on a bicycle, they used a chalk based paint, similar to what you'd get on a grassy football pitch to create a continuous circuit from one part of Plymouth to the other.

"The paint's got about a two to three week life span, before it washes off in the rain" Jack said, "so we want it to last until the end of our exhibition on the 26 June 2009."

Visitors to the Barbican, walk the line.

Visitors to the Barbican, walk the line.

Sue says the support from the University's art department has been a great stimulus as well as the go-ahead from the city council to daub walls and pavements with paint.

"I've been surprised by people's reaction as well as the media attention. We felt the lines would brighten up their day."

Whether you think it's good or bad the white lines have certainly raised a lot of eyebrows if not a few questions, which all the artists believe is good for debate.

If you want to see more then log on to the website at the top right hand of this page.

last updated: 11/06/2009 at 10:23
created: 10/06/2009

Have Your Say

What do you think - is it art or not? Give us your view in the box below. This messageboard is moderated.

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Natalie
I have heard many visitors to the city complaining abouth these ugly white lines, and observing how deprived the city must be - well done UoP & PCC, another good impression made!

imp ressed
a lot of fun, and actually quite beautiful, i followed the lines myself on a whim. i suspect that the whole debate that has arisen is one we should constantly be engaged in. great work.

a student
Its is meerly anarchy, juvenile and uncreative. couldnt they choose a topic that shows thier skills they have learnt instead.

Adam Bidwell
I thought it was pretty creative. Now I know the purpose behind it, i'm even more impressed. Keep up the good work!

Christian Forster
This doesn't really sound like art to me but for all you complainers i'm sure if that was the difference between you getting a fine arts degree and not you would do it!!! It is only there for several weeks so live with it!

Kirsty Curnow Bayley
How sad people cannot see this work for what it really is,FUN! It's only there for a week or so and no real harm has been done.

Helen
I have no problem with students using Plymouth as part of their art project and appreciate that people see art in different ways, however, i do think that they have been slightly excessive with the lines, especially along The Hoe and the Barbican, i (and many others) had assumed that some drunk person had pinched a road marking machine and gone a bit mad with it!! I don't think that visitors to Plymouth will see the paint all over the city centre as "art", there is nowhere in public view that tells us what it is, how can visitors, tourists be expected to understand, if i were a visitor i would think it was just a mess that needed cleaning up.. art is excellent in moderation and used correctly. i too hope that it does wash up well!

Audrey Miller
No doubt every protest registed will go towards these students achieving there degrees and thereby attract other talentless students to swell the UOP's coffers.

Hillary and Glyn Humphreys
The UOP and the City Council must need their mutual heads examined for being manipulated into causing offence and future predjice again the UOP and Fine Art to aid these students in this rediculous method of gaining a degree. We hope the cost of cleaning is up will not cost the people of the area too dearly.

Viviene Cioma
What a sad refelection on disabled people this is. If this is raising awareness of the wheelchair bound could it not have been organised by an official body for the disabled and not foisted on the people of Plymouth to aid this woman's obsession with drawing attention to herself and gaining a Fine Art Degree as a result. No doubt Miss Austin's tuition fees have been paid for by the people of the West Country who will now have to live with the results of her vandalism. Miss Austin sounds very please with herself and obviously the the townspeople of Hatherliegh have been spared. A suggestion for the UOP; perhaps the next student who wants to deface a city should be redirected to his/her own town where he/she pays his/her Community Charge!

Ronald Chappell
AS FINE ART IT STINKS! IT'S AN ACT OF SELF INDULGENCE BY AT LEAST ONE TALENTLESS STUDENT WHO DOES NOT LIVE IN THE VACINITY AND HAS CAUSED UNECESSARY DISTRESS TO RESIDENTS ALONG THE ROUTE WHO PERHAPS WILL FOREVER BE PREJUDICED AGAINEST FINE ART OR WOULD RATHER HAVE EXPERIENCED A MORE TRADITIONAL PRACTICE. MISS ASTIN'S ASUMPTION THAT THE PEOPLE OF PLYMOUTH WOULD ENJOY THE VANDALISM SHOULD PERHAPS HAVE HAD A 'PRACTISE' RUN IN HER OWN HOME TOWN. SHE WILL NO DOUBT GRADUATE WITH HONOURS FOR THIS ATTENTION SEEKING ACT!

UoP
As a UoP member of staff I would like to say sorry to the residents of Plymouth for the mess our students have caused.

Frances Huish
I think there are obviously a lot of people who need to take their blinkers off and start seeing life as interesting rather than mundane. It has been made clear that appropriate permissions were sought. I think pink houses should be banned as they are ugly but it is in the eye of the beholder isn't it?

James
Great idea, should be permenant or regular new patterns laid down!

Maurice Davies
It is certainly NOT art. It is intellectually juvenille in the extreme and is nothing more than mindless grafiti which is to be deplored.

Michael Waters
If we accept these lines as art rather than vandalism we invite a repetition by any group that believes it will go unpunished if its vandalism is described as art. Do the Police intend to ignore this incident thus creating a precedent for future vandalism?

Jeff Batson
Absolutely disgusting. This is grafiti and vandalism. It will only encourage other mindless idiots do think that is is ok to daub the city in paint

Chris Nelmes
Thats beautiful.It doesn't get in anyones way and it's message is universal and not offensive.

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