Broad Street Air, Reading Bus

When I first lived in Reading in the 1980s, you could almost chew the air on Broad Street some days. In damp and humid weather, the traffic fumes would be held close to the ground in a layer of evil and noxious gas. I had to go there, for instance to get school uniform from Jackson’s – a rite of passage for all my children as they went up to secondary school, always accompanied by a Heelas pancake lunch. But the air quality did not encourage hanging around… my piece celebrates the difference in the air quality on Broad Street between the 80s and now. It also, in its varied colours, nods to Reading Buses contribution to the fight for air quality*. I could pretend the idea of a bird cage was a clever reference to canaries and coal mines, but in fact that idea came later. I just thought a bird cage would make a good reliquary to contain ‘air’ (actually felting fibres) The little bells are a reference to canaries, though. (* For information, if you are not local, the livery of Reading buses is varied and colourful and much admired by friends from out of town in my experience)