‘New Narratives’ is the latest show to open at hARTslane, New Cross, London and the exhibition is a part of the hARTslane collective’s ‘Dear London’ project. Given my personal interest in the decline of affordable social housing, I was especially pleased to be asked to participate.
‘New Narratives’ is a group show which includes the work of artists, designers and architects. I felt inspired by the aims and objectives of the curators in tackling a highly pertinent social and political issue, particularly in light of the ever increasing homelessness crisis in the UK at large. A quote by architect Oliver Wainwright included in hARTslane’s press release really caught my eye:
‘Places are becoming ever meaner and more divided, as public assets are relentlessly sold off, entire council estates flattened to make room for silos of luxury safe-deposit boxes in the sky. We are replacing homes with investment units, to be sold overseas and never inhabited, substituting community for vacancy. The more we build, the more our cities are emptied, producing dead swathes of zombie town where the lights might never even be switched on.’
The issue of empty, forgotten buildings is one that stares me in the face nearly everyday en route from home to my studio in SE London. The area is becoming saturated with new-build ‘luxury living units’ and ‘high spec living quarters’ – large, imposing tower blocks developed purely for financial investment, with no consideration for the impact on local residents. Conversations among local people frequently revolve around how hemmed in they’re starting to feel, how frustrated they are about the many empty properties surrounding them and how sad they feel about the ongoing breakdown of communities – generations of families being priced out of the area.
I created ‘No Place Like Home’ in response to the premise of the show:
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Take away the money and turn this tower block into a home!
‘high spec living quarters’
‘excellent rental yields’
‘the Build to Rent Revolution’ …
… these are just a few phrases taken from various magazines promoting new-build properties in the SE London area. Everything relates to money – the property’s value, rental yield, price growth prediction; there isn’t a single mention of these properties in terms of ‘home.’
Social housing has become increasingly scarce as councils and housing associations sell off their properties to private investors. Properties are left to become dilapidated and new build ‘luxury living units’ spring up in their place, many of them completely out of bounds financially to the people who have lived within tight-knit communities for generations. As they become forced out, communities become permanently damaged and eroded. It’s time to take matters into our own hands and create a new narrative around what a home should be…
This tower block, uninhabited and stuffed full of fake money, is representative of the many that have started to saturate our local area. They’re sterile, soulless and are invariably left empty, seen by their absentee owners as nothing more than investment opportunities to increase their wealth. And even if any attempt is made to rent them, very few are able to afford the extortionate rents requested.
In order to put back some of the warmth and humanity that existed before the bulldozers waded in, I’m asking you to take away the money and bring back something in exchange; make this tower block a real home – strip it of its financial assets and transform it into an object of beauty, with heart and soul at its core; fill it with love, warmth, messages of hope, photographs, flowers – anything that represents what you think makes a home a real home, rather than yet another investment unit.
You’re welcome to leave your items and take some of the money away whenever you like. Or if you prefer, you can make your exchange on Wednesday March 21st when there will be an artists talk at hARTslane from 6-9pm.
Kate Murdoch, March 2018
PV | Thursday 8th of March , 6-9pm
Exhibition Open | 9-18 March 2018, Friday-Sunday, 2-6pm
Artists talk & performance | Wednesday 21st of March, 6-9pm
Rachael Bowyer | Kevin Brennan | Cedric Christie, Benedict Philpott, Byony Bridge (flute) & Peter Paul Nash | Guy Forrester & Sven Mündner | Nayan Kulkarni | Maria Lothe | Pat Meagher | Louise Melchior, Carolyn Clewer, Tiphaine de Lussy | Kate Murdoch | Marta Nowicka & Voytek Ketz | Ethan Pettit | Fred Rigby | Margit Sbicca Mulder | Sigrun Sverrisdottir
Lucy Tauber | Jonathan Tuckey | Anna Versteeg & Naomi Shaw
As part of ROOM 6.3 / Dear London (November 2017-May 2018), hARTslane is presenting New Narratives, where we celebrate the empty, forgotten buildings in London and imagine a new use for them, a new relation between people and space, where humanity is at heart.
The show brings together architects, designers and artists who are invited to present projects and ideas where empty unusual spaces are reconfigured and used for social rather than economic benefit.