(photo taken by me, April 2016. The view from the construction site office, Gascoigne Estate, Barking)
Hello all and welcome to my brand new website! To celebrate finally releasing this site into the public I thought I’d share some of my recent pieces of good news!
First of all: KOREO
Earlier this year, I entered my poem ‘The Gascoigne Estate’ into a social issues storytelling competition, the inaugural Koreo Prize. I was put into the last twenty and given an opportunity to improve on my entry, and so I have now created a 19 page multi-disciplinary piece with a series of photography, digital artworks and an analytical essay to document the social housing crisis through the lens of the Gascoigne Estate in Barking.
A bit of background: from Sept 2015-Sept 2016, I worked on a HLF-funded community social history project on a typical 1960’s housing estate undergoing an enormous transformation, through which the local population (many of whom had lived in the area for years) are to be moved away, their tower-block homes torn down, and replaced with new ‘affordable’ luxury flats (whilst the area is re-branded as ‘Weavers Quarter’).
Working closely with residents to create art and document their history, I got an insight into the lives and struggles of the diverse and welcoming community that call the place home. The Gascoigne Estate provides a snapshot into a struggle which is familiar to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, across London at the moment: that of the lack of social mobility despite obvious talent and accreditation; of gentrification, the loss of social housing and the uncertain futures; of community resilience in the face of being dispersed.
This poem captures my feelings and reactions to many of the issues I learnt about during my time working with the community. The issues are bigger than the areas affected by them, and the effects on one community have profound and often unseen impacts on others.
The Gascoigne Estate
Halfway between self hate and help,
Mate — I’ve spent the past 365 days
Perusing through the newspaper clippings and views
Of people who glanced once, but didn’t see through
To the people that live here.
Now, as I sit in my position of privilege in this chair
I’ve seen light years of strife that strikes fear –
I’ve also seen quite clear into the lives of people
Who open themselves up to us from outside here.
See these Boundary Roads can’t close
The open mouth that to’s and fro’s
From Algeria to Lithuania, different shoes and clothes –
But all of those call this place home.
And to see that demolished,
Transformed, abolished and polished –
Who can bring solace when communities that once flourished
Are brought to their knees?
And they say that they’re poor and can’t succeed –
But did these same people even bother to read
Cos the consensus is that this place is full of great senses
Twenty-five percent have degrees or above but, no consequences.
Smart people, stuck in the dark, evil
With bilingual kids who’ll either overlap or equal
Their parents in the sequal, but –
See it’s quite clear.
The land has been cleared and if you look over there
You’ll see a different reality nothing to do with right here.
The land’s the same,
But the faces, the pain,
The struggles to maintain
All glory and fame
And even the name
In a Weave of disdain will be taken away and replaced.
They’ll be given no Quarter.
Just slaughtered as the stories contorted
And by all means aborted,
To start a new chapter in this remorseless distortion.
Like the rest of this gritty city it’ll look real pretty
Once paved over, but think: What made this place tick?
See it’s the people.
All equal under God,
even if their god’s are different –
And language and colour too,
Remember it’s class that’s significant:
If you’re put here, it’s for good; that’s clear –
Until they clear this place because it’s too hood.
I will be releasing the full document, including the essay and digital artworks, after the Prize Giving Pop-Up Exhibition. The event will be held on Tuesday 7th November, 6-9pm, at DigitasLBi, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU. If you’d like to come, REGISTER HERE – It’s a free event but you have to register!!
Secondly (and related to firstly): PUBLISHED POETRY
My poem above, and another I’ve written entitled ‘Path Ahead’ have just been published in Poetry in Commotion Volume 1, an anthology of works by members of the open mic I frequent in Basildon, Essex, hosted by Channel 4-featured poet Olmo Lazarus.
Get a copy HERE for my work, which is accompanied by many other incredible works by some brilliant artists and poets!
And finally: ART EXHIBITION
I’m delighted to share that I’ll be sharing a few pieces of my drawings at The Tunnel’s next Exhibition, Greetings From A Dead Man. The last exhibition, Mercerism at The Crypt, was my London debut and an absolute blast. Greetings is:
A group exhibition focusing on the subject of Fake News or Yellow Journalism and its historical and contemporary context. The core of the exhibition is how language and images are used to constantly alter our perceptions of current events, history, time and ultimatley identity.
The exhibition draws inspiration from George Orwells Nineteen Eighty Four(1949) and Guy Debords The Society of The Spectacle(1967).“But where did knowledge exist? Only in His own consciousness,which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed-if all records told the same-then the lie passed into history and became truth.”George OrwellThe spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social realtion among people mediated by images.Guy Debord
And breathe! That’s all from me for November. Thanks for visiting my site, I hope you enjoy. Take a look around and give me some constructive feedback on how it can be more user friendly. Also visit the shop and grab yourself a bargain while you’re here 😉