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Idit Nathan & Helen Stratford

Idit Nathan & Helen Stratford (PLAY THE CITY NOW OR NEVER!)


When was the last time you walked back in silence and watched the world pass you by in slow motion? Have you ever followed a line on the pavement and pondered the future?


Play The City Now Or Never! is the name of the collaborative project by artists Idit Nathan and Helen Stratford . Together through a Culturelab, a Time and Space residency and an ACE funded project supported by METAL, they have been researching the way people interact with public and open spaces. Using participatory games and interventions Idit and Helen have been exploring how the threats that redevelopment and changed use of public areas affect us as well as the ways we see our towns and cities. Since 2014 they have been artists in residence at METAL, first in Peterborough and currently in Southend working with local residents to develop a site specific App for mobile devices for each.


During their residencies and through a series of public walks, which they call ‘walkshops,’ memories, experiences and ideas are shared and gathered to shape the App. Helen describes how ‘Local knowledge and ideas are central to the development of the App and we are keen for many local residents to join us and help create something that’s really relevant to their area. We’re really excited at the prospect of creating an App that is free, fun and playful’. For Idit, motivations behind the project are rooted in observations that ‘All over the country cities, towns and landscapes are being redeveloped, becoming increasingly regulated and taken away from common use. We strongly believe one of the best ways to reclaim them, before it’s too late, is to walk around and play in them together’.


Whereas most Apps focus on interactions that tend to make people less aware of their surroundings – causing people to walk around gazing at their mobile phones totally unaware of what is happening around them – Play The City Now Or Never! does the opposite and encourages people to really look at the physical landscape around them, to interact with it and play in it. It uses innovative geo-mapping techniques alongside poetic visual and audio prompts suggesting specific actions or tasks. Players are encouraged to actively look, listen, think and interact with other people, with the result that they will see a familiar environment in a whole new light.


Play The City Now Or Never! is a new free App for mobile devices that takes people on a playful journey of discovery. The App suggests directions and actions that provokes people to experience public spaces in fresh and imaginative way. The Peterborough version of the new App was launched at Peterborough Arts Festival in September 2015 and can be downloaded via Play The City Now Or Never! website and on Google Play. Play Southend Now or Never! will be launched at Village Green in July 2016. (should this be at the beginning?)


To find our more about the project and how you can get involved visit the project website at


Find the project on social media


facebook: /playthecitynowornever

twitter: @playcitynow