In 2019 Metal invited Moroccan artist Aïcha El Beloui to visit Peterborough and spend time meeting local residents and exploring the city. As an artist and illustrator, Aïcha is particularly interested in architecture and maps from the viewpoint of those who actually live, work and play in the place. Peterborough is a city that has undergone many transformations. It is a new town which has a history stretching back to the Bronze Age. It is now one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and is made up of a series of distinct different townships linked by a network of parkways. It is also an incredibly green city. It is known by many as the place they pass through on the train from London or the place you visit to renew your passport. Everyone’s knowledge and visual map of Peterborough is different. It is based on where you live, how you travel (walk, bike, car, train), who you meet, what you do, your daily journey to school, to work, to the shops, to the gym. Over several visits in 2019, Aïcha visited secondary schools, and worked with youth groups, gardeners, artists and activists from across Peterborough. She talked to them about ‘their’ city. She asked them to draw their mental maps of the city and she drew hers. She walked for hours and toured by car – which is when she discovered Peterborough’s tangle of park ways! The result is ‘Weavers’ a brand new art work for the city, a magnificent alternative map.
I had the privilege to be guided in Peterborough by its inhabitants through walks, talks, rides, and meetings. I was generously invited into the movements around and within the city. Weavers pictures the diversity of narratives and threads making Peterborough. A place whose history is written in its streets, buildings, and infinite sky; but also carried and shaped by the different people and generations forming its population. Weavers is also an illustration of the emotions and the energies generated by the city: leaving, staying, coming back, cultivating, exploring, and inhabiting the urban change before being part of it. I am very thankful to everyone who offered a little part of their Peterborough wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. Artist Aicha El Beloui
This finished artwork can be seen in Queensgate Shopping Centre, near the Westgate entrance and in the Waiting Room on Platform 1 at Peterborough Train Station from December onwards.
A special online opening of the map will be held on Thursday 17th December, 7 – 8pm on zoom, when artist Aicha El Beloui will talk about her process for creating this and maps of other international cities. To book your place and for more information click here.
Supported by Queensgate Shopping Centre, LNER and Peterborough Train Station