Golden Lane’s Surrealist Signage!

Although the vibrancy of the Golden Lane area is threatened by Taylor Wimpey’s Denizen development, there is still a lot to celebrate about our neighbourhood. One thing many Golden Lane Estate residents are rightly proud of in their street is the notorious ‘LOOK LEFT’ (2016) road marking with an arrow pointing right. This is at the junction with Old Street, on the east side of a pedestrian island at the north end of Golden Lane. Anyone who takes their cue from the arrow rather than the wording is in danger of being run down.

Perhaps whoever painted these markings was a fan of old exploitation movies such as Death Race 2000 (1975), or more recent Grand Theft Auto computer games; maybe they just wanted people to stand rooted to the spot on the traffic island, confused by the written instruction and its graphic interpretation contradicting each other! On the other hand they may have wanted to provide a proletarian take on surrealist works like René Magritte‘s The Treachery of Images (1929) – a picture of a pipe with text beneath stating “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. While Magritte highlights the gap between language and meaning, the Golden Lane road marking evokes a different kind of tension, and might be seen as an attempt to enter the realm of pure contradiction without any possibility of a dialectical resolution.

The road marking is just inside the borough of Islington, and while it is very near the border with the City of London, the Corporation shouldn’t be given kudos for it as an artistic intervention in their Culture Mile (which in any case it predates). It is certainly more subtle than the Banksy street art that appeared at the southern end of Golden Lane in September 2017; and for which the City of London has yet to take credit despite widespread rumours that the council – or at least the Barbican Art Gallery which they fund – secretly commissioned it.

This surrealist signage definitely complements the modernism and brutalism to be found elsewhere in the street in the form of the Golden Lane Estate and Barbican complex, both designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. This anonymous work won’t sit so well with The Denizen AKA The Turd ghost home owners if the development is built and they come to visit their buy-to-leave investments. It is far more likely to confuse those from places where vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road than people who are used to London traffic, and might possibly endanger them. That said, it is refreshing to come across street interventions that are potentially hazardous; since so much of what’s to be seen on walls in inner London is simply artwashing instigated by developers!
“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane


Having two Mayors in London is wasteful, we should reduce it to one!

Charles Bowman looking more like someone about to head off for a fancy dress party than a civic dignitary. Believe it or not he’s set to become the 690th ‘Lord Mayor of London’ on 10 November 2017. Millions of pounds a year would be saved if the Corporation of London didn’t insist on having a separate mayor from the rest of the the UK capital. It is high time we stopped this waste and abolished the office of Lord Mayor of London! If Sadiq Khan is good enough for Southwark and Hackney, then he’s good enough for the City too!

Spectres of Modernism Installation Shots

Installation of Zombie Investors Take Stock. Pippa Henslowe’s slogan plays on many new builds in the EC1 City fringe being bought as buy to leave investments, while in the computer game Black Ops II a denizen is a kind of zombie.


Installing Wimps by Jeremy Deller & Fraser Muggeridge. The slogan invites 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.

Another shot of Wimps being installed. Next to it is the first banner installed children need sunlight to grow. Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk’s slogan is a stark warning about Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development stealing 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.

Installing UNDER LONDON, HEAVEN’S LIGHT, GROW LIVES, NOT LOOT. With this slogan, Iain Sinclair 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’.

“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane

City Matters on Spectres of Modernism


Golden Lane Estate mounts battle banners by Tom Oxtoby, 16th October 2017

TENANTS of Bowater House have unveiled battle banners in their continued fight against a development on their doorstep.

Locals have been at loggerheads with the Corporation and developers Taylor Wimpey ever since plans were approved for a block of luxury apartments at the site of Bernard Morgan House.

And resistance from residents, who say inflated prices will lead to the 99-unit complex becoming a “ghost block”, reached new heights last week when banners protesting the build were draped from balconies facing the building site.

Each banner is emblazoned with slogans dreamt up by leading artists and writers, including Turner Prize winners Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price, and Booker Prize nominated author Tom McCarthy.

Messages include ‘Zombie Investors Take Stock’, ‘Homes for Heroes’, and ‘children need sunlight to grow’.

Collectively the banners are known as The Spectres of Modernism, and will be in place directly opposite The Denizen – the name of the impending development – until 10 December.

The installation has been designed by the Fraser Muggeridge Studio and curated by Clare Carolin.

“The Denizen will overshadow local homes, the adjacent Jewin Welsh Chapel, Fortune Street Park, Richard Cloudesley and Prior Weston Schools, and the Golden Lane Children’s Centre,” said a statement on in opposition to proposals that were approved over the summer.

“Sunlight is being stolen from children, residents and local workers to create ghost homes for investors who won’t live in them.”

Properties at The Denizen will go up following the demolition of the 110 properties built for the City’s key workers back in the 1960s.

The resident statement went on to claim that the exhibition had been scheduled to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair “when the international super-rich descend on London to invest in the Capital’s cultural products”.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign – which pulled in £10,000 from supporters – residents were expected to submit a legal challenge to the plans this week.

Read the full story here:

“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane

Under London, Heaven’s Light, Grow Lives, Not Loot


In his many novels, published since the early 1980s, Iain Sinclair offers a critical chronicle of the gentrification of London’s East End. This Hackney based writer’s slogan for Spectres of Modernism 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’. In a 2004 interview Sinclair expands on this idea of avaricious divinity linking it to Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minster responsible for wrecking the social contract of the post war welfare state and kick starting the culture of greed which four decades down the line, has produced the devastating circumstances against which our protest is directed:

“You can’t understand Thatcher except in terms of bad magic. This wicked witch who focuses all the ill will in society. I can’t understand her except as demonically possessed by the evil forces of world politics. Everything else follows from that: oil revenues blown in dubious arms deals, all real values trashed. She becomes a godhead to those who want to destroy the city’s power. But the godhead is created for a system which destroys her, as always happens. Now she’s been banished to a kingdom of whisky and mockery. But the fact remains that she introduced occultism into British politics and that the role of the writer was to counter that political culture.”

Top banner in photo above Tom McCarthy, beneath Iain Sinclair.

“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane