Iconic site was developed initially by Sans façon, a collaborative art practice between a British artist, Tristan Surtees and French architect, Charles Blanc, as a commission for the Centre for the Urban Built Environment (CUBE), Manchester in 2007. The sign was created as a response to the situation of many cities, where a massive wave of new developments change the face of our urban environment. Often a city is re-presented through the developers language of branding, where flats are called “living spaces”, properties are sold as a “lifestyle” and the heritage is marketed as “exclusive loft spaces”, replacing the character of the place with hollow words and meaningless sentences. In 2008, Iconic site was temporarily installed on Urban Splash’s Matchbox building in Liverpool for the Liverpool Biennial and the Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 and in 2010 was sited in the Stephenson Quarter in Newcastle.
To coincide with the opening of the Turner Contemporary in May 2011, Iconic site was commissioned by MACH (Margate Arts Creativity Heritage) to question the future of the town’s less celebrated local landmark, the Fort Road Hotel. Situated a short distance from JMW Turner’s old lodgings this now derelict public house would have been one of his local haunts. Currently perceived by many locals as a blot on the landscape this is nevertheless one of the last buildings JMW Turner would recognise if he were to visit Margate today. Iconic site brings attention back to this largely forgotten piece of history, not providing any answers but participating in questioning the role of such buildings in urban renewal.