The Book of Crawley is a guidebook to the town created by local school children aged 8-11 in collaboration with artists Andy Field and Beckie Darlington. Part fictional imagining, part actual guidebook, the book is an opportunity for adults to see and experience a place through the eyes of some of its youngest inhabitants.
We are making the book in Autumn 2023 and Spring 2024 in partnership with four primary schools in Crawley including Seymour Primary School in Broadfield and Langley Green Primary School. We will launch the book some time in March 2024.
The first version of The Book of Your Town was created in 2021 in St Helens, commissioned by social arts agency Heart of Glass, as a way of bringing together young people and policy makers to think about their relationships to the town. The project won the Liverpool City Region Impact Award for Improving Education and Learning in 2021. Since then, Andy and Beckie have created The Book of Your Town with children in Brighton & Hove, São Paulo, Riga and Kuopio.
For the young people involved, the project is an opportunity to reflect on and describe their unique experiences of the place they live – to explore the distinctive texture of their own lives and to challenge adults to listen harder to the things they have to say about the world today. For readers, both visitors and local residents, the guidebook is an invitation to look beyond the familiar and the predictable.
To see the sights that children deem most important, to follow their favourite walks and navigate through real and imagined streets in their footsteps. It is a key, to help people unlock both a different version of their own town or city, and a different way of looking, understanding and experiencing the world around them.
Through the creation of this real printed book, authored and edited by local children, the project attempts to ask some big questions about our towns and cities. Who gets to decide what is or isn’t worth seeing? Who makes decisions about what places are worth preserving and what can be allowed to fall into ruin or disappear completely? Who tells the stories that define the identity of our towns and cities, and how can we begin to empower people to tell new stories, and challenge those with power to listen to them.