Open Estate – Studio 3 Arts

September 2015-October 2016

I had the pleasure of working with some wonderful people on Open Estate, an arts-led social history project involving artists, heritage professionals, community groups and the residents of the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, East London. Funding for the project was provided by HLF, and managed collaboratively by Studio 3 Arts, Parasite Ceramics and Eastside Community Heritage.

I worked as the Trainee Project Officer to uncover the personal and social histories of residents on the Gascoigne Estate, conducting historical interviews, archive visits, community conversations and arts-based workshops to gather information and celebrate the lives of people from the area. The interviews are now transcribed and archived, and various other artefacts are housed at Studio 3 Arts.

The project culminated in a 4-day festival in September 2016, as a part of the London-wide Open House festival of architecture.

This work, and projects like it, are important because ordinary people’s personal histories, narratives and their conceptualizations of their lives and times, still go unreported. The Gascoigne Estate has a bad reputation due to a few high profile incidences in the late 1990s and early 2000s, however the image of the area and places like it given by the mainstream media is just a tiny snapshot of the lives lived by thousands of ordinary people all trying to get by. Simply, projects like this allow ordinary people to have a voice which is otherwise ignored. It is also undergoing a rapid regeneration, through which the current population are being displaced, their tower-block homes torn down, and replaced with modern, expensive housing.

Here is an essay I wrote detailing, briefly, a chronological history of the space where the Gascoigne Estate is situated.

You can find out more about the project via the following links:

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Image credits above: Saira Awan, Damien Robinson & Me