Photos: Simon Bernacki and Tom Quigley, 2017
With ice on the ground, those long, warm and sunny days seem a long time ago – so this is a look back on some of the radness that took place in Nottingham from Spring to Autumn 2017, starting with the opening jam for King Edward Park, then the ‘Block Party’ at Sneinton Market at the start of July, the ParkLives sessions throughout that month, the Andalé Bearings manual comp at Flo skatepark in August and the King Eddies Lap Instagram comp through August and September, and then the start of the Women & Girls’ skate nights at Flo and the Half-Term beginners’ sessions in October. This list doesn’t nearly cover everything – to that you can add the Enjoi team visit to Nottingham as part of their ‘Breaking Rad’ tour and Forty Two Shop’s Sunday Circuit, which took place every month throughout the summer in skateparks across Nottingham and the wider area – plus the usual weekly flow of people skating and filming at Sneinton Market and streetspots around the city, skateparks and both DIY I and DIY II (both RIP, sadly).
King Edward Park Opening Jam
Starting the dry-ish season off on April 29th, we had an opening jam at the new, small street-oriented skatepark in King Edwards Park, Sneinton – a short walk from central Nottingham. More than 100 spectators and participants made it over to King Eddies – with prizes kindly provided by Form Distribution (Girl, Chocolate, Lakai, Royal, Loud headphones and Footprint insoles) and Canvas Spaces. Under 15 prizewinners included Lewis Blower and Finn Stevenson with solid runs; and the over 16s raced to get a line (at least 3 tricks in a row) in some kind of chaotic death match, before jams at two of the main obstacles: the bump-to-bar and the Pier 7. Paulie Todino, Greg Hollingsworth, Kai Gunn, Adam Gaucher and the legendary Craig Smedley were among those who killed it and scooped up fresh proddy. This got some hella-cringe coverage on BBC East Midlands Today (unfortunately filmed before the comp started) and much, much better coverage from the brothers at Sidewalk Mag. Check the immense no-comply from Myke Trowbridge and frontside flip from Greg, photographed by Tom Quigley above, and check the video edit, which includes music with kind permission from mighty Nottingham band Fists.
The Surface Gallery Block Party
The Surface Gallery are an independent art gallery close to Sneinton Market, and for the last few summers they’ve worked with the Sneinton Market management to organise events celebrating the Notts graffiti and street art scenes, working with Montana in Hockley (the UK brand store for Montana Colours spraypaint, and established by Nottingham legendary graffiti artist Dilk). A few weeks after an exhibition of street art at Surface Gallery, on Saturday 1st July, the whole Sneinton Market area was taken over by stalls selling crafts, fashion and art related to graffiti and hip-hop culture, and the shutters of the old Sneinton market units were painted through the day by street artists from all over the world – including Nottingham’s Grim Finger, who also graffed up a grindbox/wallie block for us. Shortly before, we’d had the disappointment of being told by the City Council that we couldn’t stage the UK leg of the Andalé Bearings #wheeliedope manual comp at Sneinton Market because of the still existent By Law and views held by some local politicians that skateboarding was ‘anti-social’ – which illustrates the hard work still to be done in order to really learn and apply all those lessons from the Malmö skate scene and their close partnership with their city. So when Sneinton Market and the Surface Gallery asked us to help them include skateboarding as part of the Block Party activities – we jumped at the chance to demonstrate that skating can and should take place in the city, in public spaces, with skaters interacting with other users – and that this could be safe and engaging for punters, and just as (if not more) meaningful for young skateboarders than an event in a prefabricated facility out-of-sight of the general public.
Conor Andrews floats over the whole obstacle today at Nottingham's Street Art Block Party in Sneinton. Photo: Tom Quigley, 2017. As a part of this creative event, it was great to see another gathering of folk from Nottingham's internationally-renowned skate scene utilising the excellent Sneinton market space – giving the public another grand display of skateboarding, and giving kids and adults alike the chance to try skating for themselves. Skateboarding is an active, creative & inclusive activity, that positively engages with the public 365 days a year. @1conor23 @tomquigley #varialmagazine #eastmidlands #skateboardphotography #streetartblockparty #sneintonmarket
Various obstacles were installed across the space, and local skaters took it upon themselves to clear up litter left from earlier market trader stalls before the start of the event; and to thoroughly clean the space of bottles, glasses, food and other litter left by the public who’d enjoyed the event in their 100s – to try to combat persistent views held by some that skateboarders are responsible for litter in public spaces. Click on the video edit above (with music kindly provided by the brother Deadbeat at Dawn) to see some of the skating that took place – with Kev Harris, Kai Gunn, Matt Vardy, Conor Andrews and Greg Hollingsworth killing it all through the day – notably Kev’s lightfooted kickflip into a bank placed at the bottom of the big steps (which he rolled away from in just a few tries). Tom Quigley snapped some incredible pics, which are on Varial Magazine‘s Instagram. Hopefully this will help shift the views of key decision-makers in the City Council and the Creative Quarter – it was a huge success, no one was hurt, annoyed or offended, and skateboarding contributed to a big part of what made the day so rad for so many people.
ParkLives Skate Sessions
Nottingham City Council with the Renewal Trust and the Nottingham Parks and Open Spaces Forum kindly supported skate sessions as part of the city’s 2017 ParkLives programme. ParkLives is a national scheme, funded by Coca Cola GB, across ten participating cities – that tries to increase the amount and frequency of people using public parks and outdoor spaces, through supporting free activities, from yoga to football. Nottingham is the first city in the UK to introduce skateboarding to the ParkLives programme – which enabled us to train 9 young people and adults to the new Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions; along with Child Safeguarding Certification, Enhanced DBS and Public Liability Insurance – with kit donated by Forty Two Shop, local skaters and the Nottingham Central Skatepark Facebook campaign. All together this meant that anyone could be introduced to, practice and progress in skating through July – with access to good quality boards and helmets, and experienced mentors – no matter what their age, income, gender or disability status. In all, 51 people joined us as part of these sessions – 35 of which were women and girls (aged from 8 through to early 50s). What was amazing to see, in addition to the young beginners (who thankfully now don’t seem to be growing up with the gender segregation many adult skateboarders experienced), was women in their 20s, 30s and beyond – who could skate, often pretty well – but hadn’t before had access to an environment and a community in which they felt comfortable and able to really enjoy themselves. So the women and girls’ sessions were super high energy, with a brand-new community – and hopefully lasting friendships – being formed; helping put Nottingham on the map for female skateboarding.
The Andale Bearings #WheelieDope Comp
The experience of the Malmö scene shows that, if you want to grow and sustain a skate city that attracts people to live, work, study or visit from all over the world, you need to have events – to provide a spotlight on the stuff that happens throughout the year, encourage public investment in skateparks, and give home-town heroes a chance to shine and bag a sponsor or two. So when Dwindle contacted Forty Two to propose Nottingham hosts the UK leg of Joey Brezinski’s Andalé Bearings ‘wheeliedope’ manual competition (the final for which took place in September at the LA Courthouse) – we were super keen to make it as good as possible; not least because we’d seen what an amazing job Hull had made in hosting the Vans Park Series this summer, rolling it into their Capital of Culture status and attracting more rad stuff on top of it (including a Vans Store opening in Hull’s Rock City indoor skatepark). Unfortunately we weren’t able to have the event at Sneinton Market – which would have engaged lots of spectators and, given the spot’s reputation for UK skateboarders, would have attracted a lot of skaters to take part. However, Flo Skatepark stepped up and offered to host the event for free – and skaters came from across the UK to engage in fancy wheelies across Flo’s many blocks, ledges and weirder obstacles. Putting the cherry on the top, Notts prodigal son Will Golding (currently somewhere up the North Lincolnshire coast) absolutely dominated the comp – winning the overall prize against solid competition from Manchester style-master and Helás fan Armani Rochford, Alan Callaghan, Joe Moore, and our boys Kev Harris, Myke Trowbridge and Nathan Symes. East Anglian nice guy, big t-shirt wearer and tech hotshot James Grindley won best trick with an eye-watering fakie hardflip to fakie manny fakie hardflip out.
The #KingEddiesLap Instagram Comp and Nottingham’s First Women & Girl’s Only Skate Jam
Finally, to end the summer, one of Skate Nottingham’s original trustees and iPhone edit master, had the bright idea of hyping people to skate King Edward – to push themselves, come up with new approaches to the obstacles, and to get a bit of healthy competition going -in the form of the #kingeddieslap comp. The idea was simple: get your mate to film you skating a line, tag the comp and Skate Nottingham on Instagram, and we’d re-post it and send it to the secret judge’s bunker for consideration. More than 30 people filmed entries – with some absolutely killer lines. Us and Forty Two funded prizes – which went to Lewis and Finn for the under 15s; and Greg as the overall winner (with two separate entries that could each have won); followed by Marnix and Myke. The idea is super easy to replicate – in both parks and in the street – giving plenty of opportunities to expand and tweak in 2018. It’ll also help us look at possible grant-funded education projects around professional filming skills – and maybe bag an established skate filmer to help introduce to manage any such course in the New Year. Shortly after this, Skate Nottingham homegirls & ParkLives coaches Charleigh and Claire took the initiative and approached Flo with the idea of Women & Girls only sessions one Saturday a month, starting in September. The first had more than 50 people – making it sustainable throughout the year, and ensuring the community that grew during the ParkLives sessions in July have a regular home.
This helped us put an entry into the Aviva Insurance ‘community fund’ competition – for £10,000 to support female skate sessions, ‘skate and create’ sessions (skaters building obstacles/art installation that also activate unloved parts of the city) and developmental work for skate lessons for young people with Asperger’s and Autism. Unfortunately we weren’t successful in this, but received more than 2,000 votes – with a promo video (below) celebrating Charleigh and Claire’s Women & Girls’ sessions; ParkLives funded half-terms beginners’ sessions with kids in St Ann’s and Sneinton in October; and the incredible Section 144 gallery opened in the top floor of Flo by Notts skater and artist Carrot Boy. Together, this all made an application for Big Lottery funding all kinds of hot – meaning skateboarders in Nottingham will be starting 2018 with a successful Awards for All grant, with funds that will be managed and delivered by skateboarders – not by people acting on our behalf – with every penny going towards activities that benefit young people and adults in Nottingham.