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

Opportunty areas Pt 3: The Artists and The Puppet Masters - A Cautionary Tale

Opportunty areas Pt 3: The Artists and The Puppet Masters - A Cautionary Tale

This is the final part of a three-part series about "opportunity areas".  The first two blog posts in the series, Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle nd 'There for the taking', focused on three artists who I suggested were complicit in gentrification by working for state-funded initiatives like Creative People and Places and with property developers Delancey in the soon-to-be-demolished shopping centre at Elephant and Castle.  I know quite a few people felt I had been unfair, aggressive, vitriolic, indignant and cynical.  I was at pains to explain that the tale I told was not unique nor unusual.  Socially engaged art is commonly used as a form of placemaking.  The examples I described in the work of Eva Sajovic, Rebecca Davies and Sarah Butler were mundane.  A perhaps crass attempt to illustrate much bigger problems in our lives that are mirrored in art practices.

Read More

Opportunity areas Part 2: 'There for the taking' - (Re)writing gentrification & placemaking

Opportunity areas Part 2: 'There for the taking' - (Re)writing gentrification & placemaking

This is part two of a three-part series of posts about Opportunity Areas.  Part one is here.

Part two explores Sarah Butler’s work in a little more detail.  Creative consultations, writing stories for Creative People and Places, advocacy of socially engaged writing as part of regeneration agendas, poetry hoardings ‘covering’ demolished social housing sites whilst new builds spring up and working for the New Deal for Communities.  It reveals, perhaps, how artists can be increasingly drawn into complicit relationships with local councils, the state, funders, charities, schools and property developers.

Read More

Opportunity areas - Part 1: Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle

Opportunity areas - Part 1: Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle

Everyone loves an opportunity don’t they?  What about a whole area of opportunities: an Opportunity Area?  Investors love them.  Property developers love them.  Local councils love them.  The State loves them.  Even (some) artists love them.  Opportunities for all!  (Well, not people living in social housing … Oh, and not homeless people … Erm, and not market stall holders … Low income families who bought their own council home? No!)

This blog post explores the art world equivalent of MI5 – the socially engaged artists – the creative secret service for third wave gentrification, who, unlike the pioneering, colonial foot soldiers of first and second wave gentrification, do not necessarily live in gentrifying areas and are paid to infiltrate soon-to-be-decanted communities of social housing tenants, low income home owners, market stall holders and small shopkeepers, even, on occasion, homeless people.

Read More

From creative placemaking to "stewardship" for future wellbeing: the anti-academic turn. #AAG2016

From creative placemaking to "stewardship" for future wellbeing: the anti-academic turn. #AAG2016

There have been a couple of reviews of the session in which my paper was one amongst many.  I am a little disturbed by the blog post "Beyond creative placemaking: the wellbeing of future generations" by Julian Dobson from Urban Pollinators: a profit-making company that specialises in "regeneration and placemaking".  Whilst his blog post does not name any of the paper authors, it is clearly critical of the position taken up by a number of the session presenters, including my own.  I therefore feel a brief response is needed to clarify my position.

Read More