Throwaway Remarks - Bury is a four letter word

A tender, playful and deliberately provocative image-text commission for Bury’s Cultural Quarter commissioned by Bury’s Text Festival and animating key sites of arrival and departure around the town centre.

From 1 to 31 July 2005, 20 poster sites in the bus station and 21 rubbish bins orbitting the cultural quarter, encouraged discussions about ‘value’ in the heart of Bury’s busiest locations. The civic act of throwing something away was made a little more remarkable – even elegant or beautiful. A network of sites for double take and debate. Places normally used for casual disposal became temporary monuments to the rewards of demotic attention.

The bins formed a trail of anagram signposts to poster-sized images installed in the Bus Station. Together, these 104 image-texts built a contemporary portrait of town values. Local people asked to be photographed while TNWK were working on this project and the project evolved to include them in the bus station posters. The bins displayed letters, words and a photographic reflection of its site on all 4 sides.

TNWK focussed upon value in the context of the four-letter-word and everyday detail as lived. For example, mean – last – copy – gate and bury all play on different interpretations of value, contradicting the popular view of the four-letter-word as being simply rude or unpleasant. One buries one’s loved ones, one buries one’s treasures and one buries one’s waste.

“C” Bin Poster Set

By focusing attention upon the often ignored and undervalued street rubbish bin, TNWK were not suggesting that Bury or its people, nor their environs nor these words are rubbish, quite the opposite. Throwaway Remarks – Bury Is A Four Letter Word was a puzzle of sorts, designed to stimulate attention and conversation. The idea that something is rubbish sparks debate so one person’s scrap might be another’s treasure. Why do we keep what we keep? Why do we notice some things and not others? What attachments, preferences, habits and beliefs do these choices reveal about ‘us’?

Threading through all of TNWK’s work is a weighing and questioning of value. They notice and record digitally everyday traces, remnants and markings of ‘the commons’, proposing them as monuments (literally as the dictionary defines – reminders of people and events). Examples include: the annually refreshed shrine of flowers and poems at the scene of an accident, the functional appropriation of a space in order to meet the storage needs of someone living on the streets, the playful or perhaps accidental sculptural serendipity of the footprint or styrofoam cup in wet cement, the consensual subversion of desiring paths, the urgent impulse to express an opinion or convey a message, the possibility for beauty in a plastic bag caught in the branches of a tree. TNWK suggest these monuments have a recuperative value and resist their easy dismissal as eyesores, irritants, undesirable or illegal.

Text Festival, the first major UK festival based on the idea that art can be read as poetry and poetry can be viewed as art was presented in venues and sites across Bury, Lancashire over 9 months in 2005. Text Festival challenged the boundaries between art and poetry, with a combination of text art and visual poetry. This ground-breaking festival spotlit works by renowned text artists like Lawrence Weiner, Maurizio Nannucci and Shaun Pickard while also celebrating rarely seen but seminal text works by Bob Cobbing, Joseph Kosuth and a host of other international revolutionaries who challenge the insularity and limitation of the mainstream literary scene. A catalogue written by Text Festival organiser Tony Trehy is available. It controversially addresses the issues of text and poetry in contemporary poetics practice and international politics. Visit

“K” Bin Poster Set