The Radford Mill skateboard reclaim
An interview with artist, designer and skate boarder Nick Hanson
As part of our Revolution and Change - Post Katrina New Orleans event, Nick Hanson will be adapting Nottingham's ‘infamous’ tag ‘Have a lovely day’ into a bottle top installation at Rough Trade as a response to the New Orleans Folk Artist Dr Bob. Dr Bob’s tag is Be Nice or Leave, which reminded us of this unusual tag, so we invited the artist, designer and skateboarder to get involved.
He’ll also be showing collages and sculpture made from waste materials found in Radford Mill where the artist and friends reclaimed the derelict textile mill to create an indoor skate park. We caught up with Nick to find out more about how Nick and friends reclaimed a derelict mill to create an indoor skate park.
JC. How did you first discover Radford Mill?
NH. My dad (designer Daniel Hanson) was one of the last occupants of the building. His design and manufacturing business was based in the Mill. He was working there in the 90’s and I remember going there as a kid. We revisited the mill in 2013 to find it was unoccupied and had fallen derelict. It’s an old Victorian textile mill, making it an important part of Nottingham’s industrial heritage.
JC. Tell us about about how you reclaimed the mill for an indoor skate park?
NH. Me and three mates Alex, Reese and Neil and a occasionally a few others, found our way in. We didn’t even need to break in, it was that uncared for. All the windows were smashed and it was slipping into decay, I think at this point it was owned by the council whilst they waited to demolish it. It was a particularly bad summer too and there was nowhere indoor to skate, so we thought we’d take a look.
JC. What did you find inside?
NH. Inside was every kind of material that you need to build a skate park, wood, metal, you name it. It was great fun rummaging around seeing what you came up.
JC. Was it occupied by any homeless?
NH. Surprisingly it wasn’t, but some incredible urban wildlife had moved in. As the building was left to fall derelict, nature had taken over. There was a big family of cats and foxes. We found a hawk trapped in the building and spent a day trying to catch it which is pretty difficult. We eventually got it, once we got help from friend who knew what they were doing. There was also several species of bats, which actually helped to extend the life of the project as they’re a protected species and can’t be moved that easily.
JC. What did you build in the skate park?
NH. We built drive-ways, wall rides, poll jams, quarter pipes, rails and ledges. Everything you would want in a DIY skate park.
JC. How long were you using the building?
NH. We were in there for six months, the police caught us in there on two or three occasions. However I think they had empathy with us as they saw how much work we’d done. The first time the police came in, we were sweeping, painting and had building materials in our hands. The other floors in the building were a complete tip, but our floor was spotless. They could see we’d taken pride in our work and that we were looking after the building.
JC. What about the artwork in the building?
NH. The artwork was done organically, nothing was planned it just grew, like the whole project.
JC. As a response to the Revolution and Change - Post Katrina New Orleans event at Rough Trade, you are doing a direct response to New Orleans Dr Bob’s work, taking the tag and reworking it out of bottle tops and using junk to make art. You will also be showing some sculpture and collage, tell us how this work came about?
The collection of work is from materials found or ‘scavenged’ in the mill. Everything is instinctively put together, I’m obsessed with beautiful junk. I love it when you find seemingly unrelated objects, like a guitar head and an old fuse box and they sit together perfectly.
As a skateboarder you learn to adapt and respond to the environment around you. Like the mill, to most people its a shit hole, but to a skaterboarder its potential. You can find beauty in anything. I think if I wasn’t a skate boarder, I think I’d see the environment as pretty desolate place.
Nick Hanson will be adapting the ‘infamous’ tag ‘Have a lovely day’ into a bottle top installation in the court yard of Rough Trade. This is an interactive piece where the audience are invited to help build the artwork. No booking required, from 7pm, Friday 17 July.
Nick Hanson, Collages and Sculpture from Radford Mill will be exhibited upstairs in Rough Trade Cafe Bar.
Revolution and Change
Post Katrina New Orleans
Music, Film, Art and Food.
For more information
@roughtrade Fri 17 July, Free
6.30pm - 11pm