Alan Sillitoe in 2008. Cover image for Sillitoe Trail, TheSpace. Source; LeftLion, Dom Henry
A literary journey based on Alan Sillitoe’s 1958 novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
About the Sillitoe Trail and The Space arts platform
Nottingham-born, Alan Sillitoe (1928-2010) is best known for his first two books; Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner (1959). The Sillitoe Trail is a multimedia interpretation of Alan Sillitoe’s first novel; Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and the film version by Karel Reisz (1960) which stand as beacons for debating contemporary British values and identity.
Commissioned by Arts Council England and the BBC, The Sillitoe Trail was originally produced by James Walker and Paul Fillingham as part of a pilot for an on-demand digital arts platform called ‘The space’ (2012-13). The original commission was supported by the Alan Sillitoe Memorial Committee and includes fresh interpretations of Sillitoe’s masterpiece from many Nottinghamshire artists, writers, film-makers and students.
The Space offered the BBC an opportunity to develop editorial workflow for handling digital content. The Thinkamigo team (lead by Paul Fillingham) worked alongside producers and mentors at BBC Wood Lane and Media City Salford alongside fifty other arts organisations including the likes of Shakespeare Globe Theatre, The Tate Gallery and the John Peel Record Collection. The Sillitoe Trail was hailed as an exemplar in creative engagement by Arts Council England. The project made a huge impact in Nottinghamshire as well as extending into public events including; Sheffield DocFest, City Library, Newcastle and The British Library and Google HQ in London. Culminating in the release of a 1950s styled ‘Factory Handbook’ and a mobile trail on the Apple App Store – Part of a festival of screenings, readings and live performance at Nottingham Contemporary.
Radio and Television
The Sillitoe Trail also formed an important case study, which supported Nottingham’s successful bid as a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015. In addition to local media appearences, including NottsTV, BBC Radio Nottingham and BBC East Midlands news, the Sillitoe Trail was the subject of a BBC TV Inside Out documentary and subsequently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live hosted by John McCarthy.
Postscript – 2020
Whilst opening up creative possibilities, experimental digital projects that have emerged over the past decade have been largely time-limited and transitory. In the digital age, archivists continue to struggle with the loss of creative artefacts as proprietary media formats become outdated or the support and funding simply disappears. In spite of numerous software and hardware updates, the Sillitoe trail has endured. In the defiant spirit of Arthur Seaton, the Sillitoe Trail refuses to go the way of Betamax tapes and floppy disks.
The 10th anniversary of Alan Sillitoe’s death coincides with the Covid19 pandemic. At this time, arts organisations are seeking new ways to engage audiences currently in lockdown and complying with social distancing measures that prevent arts venues from opening. In this context, the Sillitoe Trail is very much aligned with the #CultureinQuarantine initiatives being developed by creatives throughout the UK and beyond.
Take your own interactive tour of the author’s city and follow in Arthur Seaton’s footsteps around Nottingham, exploring the real locations of key scenes from the novel. You can go back to the Old Market Square site, or visit The White Horse pub, the Raleigh factory, the River Trent and Goose Fair.
We suggest you start your journey by the left lion in the Old Market Square – the most logical place for the trail to begin. – Paul Fillingham and James Walker.
Fillingham and Walker 2020