Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ruin Lust

A couple of weeks left at Tate Britain of 'Ruin Lust', the exhibition tracing artists' fascination with ruins from the 18th century onwards. London features heavily, with Transpontine content including:

Photographs by Henry Dixon of old inns facing demolition, commissioned  by the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London in the 1880s. This one is of King's Head Inn yard off Borough High Street SE1 in 1881. There is still a pub there of course, but the old 17th century coaching inn structure is no more:

The White Hart Inn in the same street was also photographed by Dixon in 1881, prior to being demolished in 1889:

Keith Coventry's Estate Paintings appear to be abstract designs but are in fact based on the layout of London estates. The exhibition features his 'Heygate Estate', painted in 1995 before the Estate became a famous ruin.

The exhibition also includes Coventry's bronze casts of vandalised saplings in Queens Road SE15 and 'Burgess Park SE5, Planted 1983, Destroyed 1988':

Laura Oldfield Ford's 'Ferrier Estate' (2010) pictures the now demolished estate in Kidbrooke. She sees ruins emerging as part of a class-based reshaping of London, and also wonders about the ruins of the future

'My psychogeographic drifts through different areas of London have become a melancholy project documenting the loss of certain aspects of the city . I return to places that have been important , sites of collective memory and desire that are being demolished. During the Blair years walking through the redeveloped and regenerated London streets was to experience alienation and familiarity simultaneously, fragments of memory would emerge as splinters in the smooth space of developers plans. Places that had been in the commons were being gated off, the consequence of a decade of corporate land grabs and sustained social cleansing. London was becoming an enclave for the wealthy, and the rest of us were being pushed out, scrubbed off the map and out of history... 

Many of the ruins we see emerging at an accelerated rate around London and the South east are the ruins of the future, the new build luxury highrises and inevitable victims of the next collapse in the property market. There are ranks of empty blocks, like Capital Towers in Stratford, bought off plan in auctions in Hong Kong and Malaysia and left as menacing totems of a speculative free for all. What will become of these places? Maybe they will end up as negative equity ghettos like the Pinnacles in Woolwich, sublet to recent arrivals from the former colonies and left in a state of chronic disrepair , or perhaps they will be seized and occupied by bands of rent defaulters, young people unable to afford anywhere to live in the South East whose desperation has led them to take militant direct action' (Laura Oldfield Ford, Zones of Sacrifice: 2010-2014)

'Ferrier Estate' by Laura Oldfield Ford

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