During summer 2012, artist Laurence Payot undertook a series of activities, which explored how people use and inhabit Preston’s Market Square and how they relate to the city’s cenotaph. Alongside another artwork by Jenny Steele, this research was designed to inform Preston City Council’s Preston Remembers project, which aims to renovate and remodel the cenotaph in the run up to the centenary of the First World War in 2014.
Laurence began the project by looking for visual patterns within the chaotic and constant flow of people within the Market Square. She spent a day photographing the space and catagorised the resulting photographs as the basis for a series of mock up images. Laurence explains “The categorising technique I used is very similar to the one used in monitoring forms, where we become a tick in a box, but transforming it into a visual form makes it look strangely humorous (some of the images look like they could be of a performance or an event), as well as ironically dark and sectarian”.
For the second stage of her research ‘From My Eyes’, the artist sought to discover people’s perceptions of the Cenotaph by asking them to draw the monument and make their own additions to it. The images were then edited to create an animation, which gives a collective life to the still and quiet monument.