Forget six degrees of separation, it only takes three in this town so they say. And that’s exactly what designer Joni-Amelia Trevaskis set out to test with her “Reconnect Newcastle” installation. Trevaskis spent 8 years living in Newcastle, Australia’s seventh largest city and was moved by its people. “I believe the community and people make Newcastle a special place. I’m always amazed by the connections people have with each other” Trevaskis says, who asked Novocastrians who in the city has inspired them, who they would like to reconnect with, and if they have any regrets or apologies.
The installation acts as a mechanism for social interaction. Trevaskis likens it to replacing an old fashioned community noticed board with something that prompts engagement from all ages. Trevaskis admits because of this, the installation has taken on a new life, growing as people change their messages. And this is really what tactical urbanism is all about: allowing people to interpret urban installations freely, and in doing so activating spaces in new and sometimes surprising ways.
The Reconnect Newcastle installation is one in a series of works commissioned by NewcastleNOW, the city's business improvement program, as part of its UrbanSURGE placemaking initiative. A design competition, UrbanSURGE presents an opportunity for up-and-coming designers to leverage Newcastle's reputation as a creative hotspot and exemplar of urban renewal.