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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hooper

CTWOW - an artist's view

By Archie Bailey

If you’d told me at the beginning of the summer that I’d be spending my time building a mine, I’d have laughed in your face and called you mad.

I’m not laughing now. I’ve been working on a WWII magnetic mine prop for The City that Walks on Water, a play being held on my beloved Southend Pier for about 2 weeks now, and this has been one of the most exciting creative exercises I’ve ever taken part in. From the team I’ve been working with, to the designing and planning, to the very idea of the prop itself, the whole process has been a blast.

Making the mine itself – actually getting hands-on – however has been a whole different can of worms. Where I’m working with simple, light materials, I’ve had to keep weight and size in mind a lot. Make a part too big, and it’s not going to fit into the car taking it to the pier. Make it too light, and it might just crumble in said car. Still, a masochistic part of me has really enjoyed this challenge; it’s made me learn to think really far out-of-the-box – I suppose working as a greenhorn, with unfamiliar materials, does that.

I’m also coming out of this with more than just a penchant for bomb-making. I was brought in on the premise of making a mine, but I’ve made this project mine; throughout the project, I’ve been making posters, decorating the pier and providing an outsider opinion on the overall outlook of CTWOW itself. I’m very hopeful for it. I can just tell that this is going to be excellent at best, and at worst, still a ruddy good laugh.

Another very enjoyable part of this project has been working with the team to help fine-tune it into being the best version of itself. From the hours of calls, dozens of email chains and all that comes in-between, the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten is that teamwork really does pay.

If one person is as a martyr, then any project is doomed to fall short of its true potential. Teamwork and co-operation have begun to bring out the best, oft funniest parts of CTWOW, and I’m beyond thankful for the team – Alastair, Beth, Dan – for making this as easy as it has been.

My hopes are that, in the coming weeks, I finish the mine, finish all other easy props that we can’t just buy and begin to really hone in on the identity of The City that Walks on Water project.

Come September, I want to be able to look on this project and think “Wow. This is it. This is what we envisioned.” I think I’ll be able to. I know I will.

Archie at the Southend Pier Exhibition and the prop Magnetic Mine in progress.

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