London Road in Brighton is home to the starting point – or end depending which way you approach it – of an art installation hidden in plain sight you may have walked over countless times without realising. Next time you’re in the vicinity, take a moment to look down and you might just spot one of 50 numbered stone paving slabs, set in a circle around the area as wide as the road is long.
It’s referred to as the first urban stone circle in England and it’s created out of paving slabs that were being removed for a cycle route near to St Peter’s Church by the new Valley Gardens. Each one has been dug up, hand carved with a number, and re-laid in a circle which cuts through private and public spaces, including parks and car parks, even private gardens. Some of the slabs are set into the pavements, including the first outside a cashpoint at Preston Circus.
Following the route and finding the stones is a good way to explore the variety and diversity around the area London Road: the sterile New England Quarter with its new apartment blocks and offices, the New England Greenway, edgy Elder Place, Queen’s Place with its original black flint cottages which somehow survived the slum clearance back last century and The Level park, where you’ll find slabs buried in the grass look grave-like.
The London Road Stone Circle is the work of five University of Brighton art graduates known as The Brighton School, set up by an urban regeneration agency called Spacemakers. The aim of the project was to create a new ‘myth’ for the London Road area, to encourage people to respond to how it’s changed and is changing, see their surroundings differently and think about the past, present and future of the area.