Robin Hood Gardens. V&A: The not-so-very-arms-length state-led artwashing of state-led gentrification and social cleansing

Robin Hood Gardens. V&A: The not-so-very-arms-length state-led artwashing of state-led gentrification and social cleansing

Much has been written about V&A’s decision to purchase a part of Robin Hood Gardens: an ex-council estate; more recently social housing.  The estate is currently being demolished to make way for Blackwall Reach – a luxury property development.  Campaigners fought to save Robin Hood Gardens: some because of its architectural significance; others because they believed in maintaining social housing.  Yet the estate was not saved.  This blog post argues that V&A are artwashing the demolition of social housing and the gentrification of East London...

Read More

Rethinking the role of artists in urban regeneration contexts

Rethinking the role of artists in urban regeneration contexts

I was invited to lecture at Winchester School of Art on 3rd November 2017 as part of their Talking Heads series.  This is a transcript of my lecture along with a link to my lecture slides (with notes) and a link to an edited recording of my discussion with Nick Stewart afterwards.  The lecture covers a broad range of topics from my research including creative cities and the creative class, social capital, placemaking, artwashing, art and gentrification, anti-gentrification art, anti-art activism, the radical avant-garde, and examples of artists engaging with regeneration that do not result in artwashing or gentrification.  It's quite long but perhaps gives an overall illustration of my work and a taste of my PhD thesis, Artwashing: The Art of Regeneration, Social Capital and Anti-Gentrification Activism.

Read More

"We salvaged a slice of those streets in the sky" - an imagined conversation with Tristram Hunt

"We salvaged a slice of those streets in the sky" - an imagined conversation with Tristram Hunt

This is a very short response to the acquisition of a part of Robin Hood Gardens by the V&A museum.  An ex-council housing estate, being demolished.  I am horrified that a section will be displayed in the V&A galleries - once the social housing's been demolished and the working-class residents have been scattered.

This is an imagined narrative by Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, political parachutist and Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds...

Read More

Artists Against Artwashing: Anti-Gentrification & the Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

Artists Against Artwashing: Anti-Gentrification & the Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017.  The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art.  There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too.  It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.

Read More

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of 'participation' that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics.  Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within 'the social', there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines.  Too often I attend conferences or read articles about socially engaged art, participatory art and Creative People and Places only to find an often insular, narrow discussion of practice which often is positioned within existing frameworks of practice and research which themselves are often ultimately defined by the state.

This article therefore attempts to open up new ways of thinking about community development and social engagement in art programmes like Creative People and Places.

Read More

Boiling over. The Boiler Room's white, elite colonial appropriation of Notting Hill Carnival

Boiling over. The Boiler Room's white, elite colonial appropriation of Notting Hill Carnival

There’s been a lot written about Boiler Room’s involvement with Notting Hill Carnival and its future funding from Arts Council England’s Ambition For Excellence programme to produce a film about the event.  I do not intend to rehearse those discussions here.  There have been many valid points raised on both sides of the argument.  Rather, I want to address some serious issues that this fiasco raises about the role of public money in funding the arts in England.  My contention here is not only that Arts Council England’s funding of Boiler Room does not meet the goals of the Ambition For Excellence programme, but that it also does not support their Creative Case for Diversity objectives either.  Rather, it reinforces colonialism and white, upper and middle-class privilege.  Indeed, this funding represents the deeply neoliberal agenda of turning art into a globally-marketed consumer product.

Read More

ORANGE PAINT AND FIBRE GLASS FRIGGIN SHEEP: A conversation about artists & communities & life

ORANGE PAINT AND FIBRE GLASS FRIGGIN SHEEP: A conversation about artists & communities & life

This is a transcript of another Twitter conversation between @rattlecans and the poet Martin Daws.  It stemmed from my tweet, which reflected Martin's call for paid artists in place of multi-million pound art centres.  I asked: "Instead of a £50m art venue, a city could pay 200 artists £25k a year for 10 years to work with communities; do what they want.  What do you think?"  This is what happened...

Read More

THEY HAVE HEDGES - WE GET FENCES: A conversation about working class childhoods

THEY HAVE HEDGES - WE GET FENCES: A conversation about working class childhoods

This is a (slightly edited) transcript of a Twitter conversation which stemmed from the guest blog by @Rattlecans entitled Old Space Taken.  The conversation is about memories of living on council estates and anger at what's happened since...

Read More

An open letter to Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England from artist Richard Parry about arts organisation V22

An open letter to Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England from artist Richard Parry about arts organisation V22

I received this letter from Richard Parry as a comment to my blog post entitled SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.)  Richard has been researching the arts organisation V22 for some time (as have I).  His letter which he has agreed to publish as a blog post here instead of a comment is the result of his research and relates to a number of Freedom of Information requests he has made to Arts Council England.

Read More

Old Space Taken - a guest blog by @Rattlecans about a once-strong community, now lost

Old Space Taken - a guest blog by @Rattlecans about a once-strong community, now lost

This is a guest post by @Rattlecans - an outspoken voice on Twitter who I very much respect.  Written in 2012, it's a re-blog from The Ragged University project.  The original can be found hereOld Space Taken is about a once-strong community, now lost.  Powerful and personal, it's a must read.

Read More

Gentrification is a dirty word, so artwash it! My paper from AHRC CDT Conference at BALTIC

Gentrification is a dirty word, so artwash it! My paper from AHRC CDT Conference at BALTIC

This is my paper which I presented at the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Art and Design Research Annual Conference at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on 25th July 2017.  Powerpoint and PDF versions can be downloaded here too...

Read More