Taking inspiration from Portland Square and St Paul’s rich history, CIPHER is a response to some of the key moments that the local area has witnessed. From a 19th century boot and shoe factory, to a derelict bomb site resultant of the second world war, to CEED (Centre for Employment & Enterprise Development) which provided a place for people to congregate and learn new skills with many links to radio broadcasting, to the birth place of Ujima Radio, to St Pauls Carnival.
Fabricated out of coloured steel to complement the red bricks within the new architecture, CIPHER, on the outside, is a large panel of laser cut dance steps inviting the viewer to translate them into movement.
Yet the artwork also has another side, a hidden message, which can be decoded with the help of a cipher located on a plaque at the base of the building, using Bacon’s biliteral cipher which informs the basis for modern cryptography and coding. Literally anything can be turned into a code; a song, a text, a photograph even a set of dance moves.
The message was gleaned from the local community by running a series of workshops devised by Local Learning CIC. In association with year 6 students from Cabot Primary and St Barnabas Primary School, members of the local community were interviewed to share their memories of the area in October 2019 at St Pauls Community Centre. These oral histories then informed the final statement hidden within CIPHER.
to Roger Griffith’s podcast about the sharing memories event, the history of Ujima radio and clues towards what the hidden message might be.
To see the decoded message please click here