Civic – landmark / eyesore / icon / masterpiece.
The Civic Centre has served as a focal point to the city for over forty years, and stands as a landmark to the people of Plymouth.
While many of us are well acquainted with the staunch pale exterior of the building, there’s a lot of people here in Plymouth who never saw the building’s interior, or had no call to capture how the building looked when it was publicly accessible as the council’s service centre. This latest exhibition by Dom Moore and 51 Studio opens the doors again, highlighting a curious point of transition in the building’s history.
We caught up with Dom Moore in the sunny Ocean Studios courtyard last week and got to have a quick chat about the project:
RI: “What was the genesis of the project, have you always been interested in the Civic Centre?”
DM: “Dave and I were both interested in the building, and there was a small window of opportunity to get access back in 2015. So, we’ve been sat on this puppy for a while!”
RI: “What were your favourite parts of the building?”
DM: “We spent two days, going floor to floor, documenting the building as is… The lifts were my favourite feature – very Shining-esque!”
RI: “Do you feel like this was a portrait of a building, with its own distinct personality, or was this a portrait of how people had imprinted on a now vacant space?”
DM: “Being a building of a lot of activity, council activity, although the building has lain empty for however long, there were these little traces of stories. So, [like] the image of the hardwood room with the bluetacked walls, that was the head of planning’s room (so I’ve been told). And any positive news article about Plymouth, he would cut it out and stick it to the walls of his office. The bluetack is still there.”
RI: “Does the Civic Centre feel like a static place or an alive place to you now?”
DM “Having spent five years looking at these images, the more I’ve looked at them, the more I’ve pulled new themes, one part of the book is face to face services. You booked in for an appointment and have an interview with someone, or you sat at a counter and speak to someone, and that has really been phased out a great deal by council services going online, you’re forced to go online, but there was just rows of interview rooms and all sorts. It’s kind of like the last remaining evidence of the old way of doing things.”
DM “Another theme we pulled out was all of these trailing cables and wires, that felt quite nautical, kind of like under water seagrass made of extension cables and blue carpet.”
As an ode to an icon, and to commemorate the exhibition, Dom Moore and 51 Studio will be launching a Crowdfunder to print the Civic book which will then be on sale for £30.00.
This is an amazing opportunity to back and own, a high-end, one-off, bespoke piece of print celebrating the Civic Centre, chronicling the time of Plymouth City Council leaving the Civic Centre and the space that was left behind – Civic, a building in transition.
The Civic Centre has recently been listed by English Heritage to grade 2 status and acquired by Urban Splash for redevelopment.
CIVIC will be on display in the Ocean Studios Café and Gallery from June 2nd-20th.