On Monday 22 March, Phil Smith and Stéphanie Delcroix visited Friarsgate car park as a potential site for Urban Fallow. The rooftop which was once part of the facility, hasn’t been in service for a long time. Here and there are the remnants of temporary use by urban nomads such as empty tins. Some of the tarmac is in a state of advanced decomposition. Whilst rotten tarmac looks safe to tread upon, its nature doesn’t fool your steps for long at all: your feet slip on the viscous matter which is in the process of turning back into oil.
The top floor of the car park is still open but hardly used except from farmers’ market days every second Sunday. Recently the space was transformed by the installations of a group of Winchester University Art Students. In the days following the show, car park cleaners found heaps of domestic paraphernalia which they believed to be the leftover from the homeless when it fact they were art installations. It is apparently not uncommon for those who go without shelter to try to create a sense of domesticity by installing little shrines. The Roman household spirits would have been flattered by these intentions. So next time you encounter a pile of forlorn objects in a staircase, you may be about to step over a contemporary version of the altar to the Lares!