It ain’t gentrification – it’s an ideological wipeout. People all over the London, told they’re going on a little holiday while their flats get updated. Never to return. Their homes flattened, sold off to international investors who are stashing their hard-earned, away from their localised greed, in investment pods in the UK that they’ll leave empty.
And artists have had enough.
Golden Lane Estate is a classic architectural design. Sheltered within Peabodys, Guinness Trust and the latter-built Barbican, it is a space of light and peace separating the city and London Wall with the west/east traffic vein of Old Street. The market of Whitecross Street bustles through the day with lunches. But following countless exorcisms of tenants as private companies scoop up land cheaply from cash strapped councils, under the cry of “austerity”, but it actually being far closer to “I’m a greedy bastard, I wanna profit from people” – do we just roll over and let our city become a ghosttown shell for the superrich, where places like south London’s Elephant Park, which displaced 3000 residents for a first phase of quasi-Spanish coastline/Hamptons/riad properties sold entirely to internationals. The lack of government care for our land has had its day. Councils taking short term backhanders, selling off our roots, and rights. Whether it’s under the guise of London Newcastle-style artistic community support, where they create galleries, street art gardens to reroute pedestrian pathways, or sponsor places like Richmix – in the post-Grenfell era, we gotta reclaim our streets. Taylor Wimpey are one of the newest old fams of Britain to try and deprive long term dwellers of light, by smashing down one building to hit the sky with flats already promised to Hong Kong people who’ll hardly be there. 80% reductions of light into some windows. This is what’s happening at Golden Lane.
So, Stewart Home has rallied his Turner and Booker prize winning mates in to decorate the buildings under threat.
Bowater House, Golden Lane Estate, London EC1Y 0RJ. View from Fann Street, EC1.
Visit, share the banners till December 10.
And pop by the BASQUIAT…
The Artists & Slogans
Iain Sinclair: this sets the positive force of life against the avarice of the Corporation of London, for whom, to quote one Bowater House resident, ‘money is their only God’.
Arnaud Desjardin: “city = thieves = liars = speculators”. This artist, who lives close to The Denizen site, recently had to take legal advice to prevent a developer from getting the local council to grant them a compulsory purchase order on his right to light in the premises at which he produces his work.
Cornelia Parker: normally for a shadow to fall, the object casting it must fall too. However, The Denizen is already casting a shadow over life around Golden Lane without construction having even begun, and so the darkness surrounding it could be dispelled by stopping it from being built.
Siu Lan Ko: Marx and Engels often used dialectical reversal to make points and in The Communist Manifesto they state: ‘all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind’; many now associate the first part of this citation with its reuse in the title of Marshall Berman’s book All That is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity (1982).
Stewart Home (loosely translated): a Bowater House resident liked Stewart Home’s English slogan so much he asked a friend to render it in Chinese. Since a literal translation didn’t work well, the friend suggested 陰地上的豪宅 or yīn dìshàng de háozhái, meaning ‘mansion on shady land’. The translator said shady in this instance meant haunted and the phrase had an eerie and poetic vibe; it could almost be advertising for a ghost movie. Purchasing a Denizen luxury apartment will haunt you forever!
Mark Aerial Waller: S106 refers to legislation requiring developers to include affordable housing in their schemes subject to ‘commercial viability’. Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen – like many other developments – manipulates the loose rules about this.
Fiona Banner: a contraction of the final stanza of the Philip Larkin’s 1967 poem High Windows, seemingly replacing the original’s ambiguous treatment of transcendence with a positive endorsement of inner experience, something that isn’t possible in ‘air-conditioned nightmares’ like The Denizen. As Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse) noted in Poésies (1870): “Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It holds tight an author’s phrase, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, and replaces it with the right one.”
Pippa Henslowe: many new builds in the EC1 City fringe are bought as buy to leave investments, while in the computer game Black Ops II a denizen is a kind of zombie.
Gavin Turk & Deborah Curtis: Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development will steal sunlight from 2 schools, the Golden Lane Children’s Centre and Fortune Street Park; as well as plunging into darkness many of the flats the children who use these community assets live in.
Liz Price: has used the title of both a tune and an album by Eddie Harris (1934-1996), the godfather of jazz funk; and one which highlights the fact that both the City of London and Taylor Wimpey have to date turned a deaf ear to the interests of both local residents and those who work in the vicinity of The Denizen site.
Jeremy Deller & Fraser Muggeridge: invite us to ponder whether there is much difference between Taylor Wimpey’s building construction and the aftertaste of burgers sold by fast food chain Wimpy; while also offering an opinion about the moral robustness of corporations.
Adam Dant: British post-WW1 slogan ‘Homes Fit For Heroes’ in Chinese.
Patrick Goddard: a contraction of a slogan from an earlier text/image work by this artist; the original piece invoked Grant Morrison’s graphic story The Invisibles (1994-2000), as well as drawing on rapper Jehst’s City of Industry (2002). Here the suggestion is The Denizen’s ghost home investors will lead lives that are emotionally and intellectually barren, rather than enjoying cultural riches that echo those of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, as Taylor Wimpey ridiculously suggest in their promotional material for the development.
Anjalika Sagar – The Otolith Group: developers are attempting to rebrand the Finsbury/Bunhill/St Luke’s area as East Clerkenwell, to create a ‘hipster central belt’ running from Hoxton and Shoreditch to the east to the real Clerkenwell in the west. The Denizen lying mere metres over the border from the old borough of Finsbury (now a part of Islington) fits this pattern of hipster gentrification although it is situated just inside the City ward of Cripplegate Without. The Denizen is NOT located in the ancient heart of the City of London as Taylor Wimpey have falsely claimed in advertising material, since it lies well outside the old city wall.
Eleanor Vonne Brown: slogan from luxury apartment hoarding in Haggerston.
Artists Against Overdevelopment: a hashtag so that people seeing the banners and wanting to know more could look it up online. #savegoldenlane