From the Guardian:
Big Brush of the ‘Paint the Heygate’ project gives a moving description of walking around the nearly empty estate. On the massive Kingshill Building (she calls it the Aylesbury here, but I think she means Kingshill), they find a council worker who shows them round. They find exactly one person left on the whole building, out having a cigarette on the empty terrace. “No comment” he says, as soon as he sees them, obviously marking them for press.
Will Montgomery is a sound artist who has posted some sound recordings made inside and outside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Mall. In an article for the August, 2007 issue of Painted, Spoken, he writes:
“I’ve never lived on the Heygate and I’m glad of that. However . . . one night I was knocked over on the Elephant’s north roundabout. The impact destroyed the joint at the base of my left thumb, and the Elephant, like the fused thumb, has nagged at me ever since. . . .”
Then, explaining his interest in the shopping centre (from the same interview):
“What interests me now is it’s sound. In the late 199o’s, I began to admire it’s peculiarly roomy, dreamy acoustic . . .in the shopping centre you get, of course, voices speaking many languages . . . But more important to me is the combination of overlapping human voices with piped pop songs. Often you catch some ancient love tune . . . floating by. Perhaps some of the more worn-down uses of the shopping center went for those songs once. For me, the romantic love hymned decades ago by these tarnished old hits tallies with the pathos that now marks the hopes of betterment expressed in the architecture of the area.”
Further, he quotes Charles Dickens, and Walter Benjamin, writing about the Elephant, and mixes sound recordings of the shopping centre with pop-up photographs of the centre and the Heygate Estate. A nice testimonial. His site can be found at ‘selvageflame.com’
I heard about this exhibit a couple of months ago and knew it was in the Elephant – but didn’t know where.
The exhibit is not on the Heygate but another derelict, soon to be demolished housing estate up Harper Road in the shadow of Heygate Estate. I used to look out on this estate when I first came to London, living in a squat across the street. The estate is nowhere on the same scale as the Heygate – a bulky hi-rise with a low-rise in front, two duplexes connected by a single gangway which looked more like a bare-bones roadside motel than a housing estate.
“These buildings were about containing large groups of people who were all living in the same kinds of places and being encouraged to think the same kinds of thoughts, These kinds of buildings don’t work; as a model they have not passed the test of time. They are symbols of a collective will, which treads on an individualistic attitude in the form of small, pokey flats. They give you very little architecture, the nominal amount of expression you’re allowed to have and were ungenerous in that respect,”
As I wrote on my City of Strangers about an art exhibit on a street in Brooklyn awaiting demolition to clear the way for another condo (construction has been delayed after the developer ran out of money) this sort of exhibit seems to be inhabiting more and more transitional spaces, an I’m assuming subconcious comment on the role of art and artists in the process of gentrification.
From BD the Architect’s Website:
From the Southwark News:
Regeneration in Southwark is now in total chaos, with an Executive totally out of their depth, the director of major projects resigning [see page 3], and still no deal on the table. There has been a massive lack of political leadership, and this failure rests firmly with the leader of the council, who has so far dodged any accountability, instead blamed everyone else, but still delivered nothing, and just the promise of more dither and more delays.
The council, however, says that everything is still on track despite the ‘worst recession any of us have ever seen’ and affirms that everyone will be moved off the Heygate Estate by the September deadline.
The person behind this has made his/ her site invite only (why?) since I last checked it a couple of days ago, but supposedly there is a campaign on to paint the heygate estate.
I have six world renowned well known urban artists (local and overseas) who have told me personally that they want to come down to paint the Heygate and work with this local community. Imagine the possibilities.
Meanwhile, a new play is being written, featuring the Heygate Esate:
One Mile Away is a new play about a one-mile-radius area of London, being created by playwright Kat Joyce and theatre director Nathan Curry. It was commissioned by literature development agency Spread the Word
From Parliament to Elephant, Vauxhall Farm to Lower Marsh, Kat and Nathan are collaborating with many local people to build a literary picture of the many narratives in this complex area. Kat will be weaving all the ideas into a new play, which will be performed by a professional cast in the summer.
In Spring 2009, Kat and Nathan will be running free writing workshops for local people who want to share their stories, contribute to making a new piece of theatre and learn about creating drama from our own narratives.
Anyone who has a connection to this area or a story to tell can contribute to One Mile Away. Share your story with us.
A photographer named Anthony Wallace posted this short Photo essay called Sealed Up in a magazine called ‘actuphoto’. He writes that he discovered some workers sealing off another empty flat while he was exploring the estate.
“Inside, an old armchair had been left behind during the evacuation. The sunken seat cushion conjured up images of who had sat there and what kind of people had occupied the flat up until the previous day.The head of the welding team granted me permission to photograph other flats whilst they were being sealed. I found myself emphasizing with the abandoned objects and decided that I would collect one as a representative of each property.These photographs are a way of preserving the living spaces and some of the memories entombed in them.