The show is over but the campaign goes on…

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Spectres of Modernism was always intended as just one strand in a longer and broader campaign against Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development. The show proved effective by generating press coverage of the many political and social issues flagged up by the City of London granting planning permission for Taylor Wimpey’s ghost flats – including potential conflicts of interest on the part of City of London councillors Chris Hayward, Michael Bear and James Thomson. As a result of our banner exhibition on the balconies of Bowater House these matters have now entered mainstream media discourse. The show and the issues it raised were covered by the national media in the UK, as well as the art press. Prior to Spectres of Modernism our concerns had only been aired in local papers and/or blogs. But far more important than press as regards Spectres was the way it brought our community even closer together as we fought Taylor Wimpey and the City of London council.

We’re still waiting to hear if the application for a judicial review of planning permission for The Denizen has been successful, which is one way we hope our campaign will move forward. But it is also important to keep raising awareness about social cleansing, a process explicit in the demolition of Bernard Morgan House – with its 110 key worker housing units – that Taylor Wimpey plan to replace with The Denizen’s 99 buy to leave luxury apartments; and with no social or affordable housing in complex whatsoever! Likewise we will continue to participate in the ongoing fight against the uniquely undemocratic political system in the City of London – with the council controlled by business votes – which denies residents a proper voice in local government. If the City of London was run by a democratically elected council like those found in the rest of the UK, The Denizen wouldn’t have stood much chance of winning planning approval in the first place!

While the Spectres of Modernism banners were up on Bowater House we blogged every day. That will stop now and we’ll only make occasional update posts from here on in. The 75 posts we’ve made so far aren’t just about us and the press coverage Spectres received, they were also intended to place our campaign in both a local London and global context; and to let people know about some other campaigns we support.

Please don’t forget our post show event. This is now rescheduled to take place on Friday 2 February at Raven Row, 56 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. There will be an exhibition, performances, screenings, talks and the sale of works from and related to Spectres of Modernism, to consolidate the protest at Bowater House against Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen Development.  With the participation of: Mark Aerial Waller, Stewart Home, Tom McCarthy, Anna Minton, Katrina Palmer, Chris Petit, Esther Planas, Bill Parry-Davies, Iain Sinclair, Claire Louise Staunton, Nina Wakeford and Lloyd Corporation in collaboration with students from Goldsmiths Visual Sociology MA. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the campaign.

Other sites supporting our campaign against The Denizen – including OPEN Golden Lane and Reclaim EC1 – will in future be more active than this one. So please check them out! And activism against Taylor Wimpey’s development still retains a live cultural component via the horror stories various novelists are producing set in The Denizen; the blog featuring some of them is here.

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

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London Review of Books on Spectres of Modernism

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Free exorcism with every Taylor Wimpey ghost home by Anna Aslanyan, LRB Blog, 7 December 2017.

Colourful banners hang from the balconies of Bowater House: ‘Under London, heaven’s light, grow life, not loot,’ one of the 21 slogans says. Another: ‘One day will this shadow fall.’ The building is part of the Golden Lane Estate, a Grade II-listed social housing complex designed in the 1950s and built on a bomb site in the City of London. Bernard Morgan House opposite is shrouded in white sheets bearing the logo ‘Taylor Wimpey’. The developer is about to demolish the building, which housed key workers between 1960 and 2015, and replace it with a 10-storey luxury block called The Denizen.

The display on Bowater House was designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio and curated by Clare Carolin. Artists and writers including Fiona Banner, Tom McCarthy and Iain Sinclair came up with the slogans. The installation, entitled Spectres of Modernism (‘A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!’), was created to support Save Golden Lane, a campaign against The Denizen.

Taylor Wimpey will sell all its 99 apartments privately, meeting its obligation to provide social housing by contributing £4.5 million towards 14 council flats to be built somewhere else. The most expensive properties in The Denizen – a ‘refined haven in the heart of the City’ – are going for over £2 million. The building as currently designed will overshadow Bowater House, Prior Weston School and Fortune Street Park, where local children often play after school. The park will lose afternoon sunshine between September and March.

The sun was still shining in the park when I met Stewart Home there. Concerned that the new apartments will be sold to investors and remain unoccupied, he came up with the slogan ‘Free exorcism with every Taylor Wimpey ghost home’. The developers’ marketing strategy relies on the artwashing of urban decay in an area branded as ‘Culture Mile’. ‘Fashion designers, Turner Prize winners … and you’, a slogan spotted at another development, was co-opted by Eleanor Vonne Brown for Spectres of Modernism (her fellow artists include two Turner Prize winners, Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price).

Across the road, another council block is emblazoned with banners reading ‘Save our sunlight’ and ‘Stop overdevelopment’. The residents of Burnhill House are objecting to plans to redevelop Finsbury Leisure Centre. Islington Council consulted them about the project, but the revised proposals ignore their suggestions. A short distance away, yet another scheme threatens Bunhill Fields, where William Blake and Daniel Defoe are buried. The public garden will be deprived of light by two tower blocks about to be built on its edge. Boris Johnson approved them in February 2016, using his power as mayor to overrule Islington Council. In May 2017, after taking back control, the council gave permission to extend the nearby Finsbury Tower from 16 to 28 storeys.

Permission to build The Denizen was granted by the City of London’s planners, several of whom are associated with consultancies acting for Taylor Wimpey. (The borough has one of the highest approval rates for planning applications in England.) The only way to stop the process is through a judicial review. The campaigners applied for it in October and are waiting to hear from the Planning Court.

Home and I walked around the neighbourhood, stopping by two new Banksy murals; rumour has it they were commissioned by the Barbican to promote its art exhibitions. We passed people sleeping in doorways opposite the offices of Shelter…

Read the full article here: https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/12/07/anna-aslanyan/free-exorcism-with-every-taylor-wimpey-ghost-home/

Recent Media Coverage of Spectres of Modernism

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On their early evening news on Sunday 29 October, ITN broadcast a report about Spectres of Modernism and the community campaign against Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen Development. ITN describe it this way: “Golden Lane residents furious at tower block plans. Video report by Sam Holder. Locals say the development will ruin the historic Golden Lane estate by blocking out its light.” You can watch this news report online here: http://www.itv.com/news/london/2017-10-29/golden-lane-residents-furious-at-tower-block-plans/

Golden Lane campaigners file High Court papers by Jim Dunton appeared in Building Design on 3 November 2017. This read in part:

Challenge aims to halt redevelopment of Bernard Morgan House and protect setting of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon homes. Campaigners fighting proposals to redevelop a former police section house with a 10-storey luxury residential scheme next to the City of London’s Golden Lane Estate have formally kicked off their legal challenge…

Open (Golden Lane) member Emma Matthews said the Golden Lane Estate maisonettes were “perfectly designed” to be full of sunlight, with tall windows keeping the flats warm in the winter and the overhangs from the balconies above to keep the flats cool in the summer months when the sun was high in the sky.

“The light survey says that Bowater flats will lose up to 62% of winter sunlight and the report described this as a minor loss,” she said. “This will lead to increased use of heating and increased omissions of C02, which is a breach of local and national guidelines.”

Matthews added that Chamberlin, Powell & Bon’s use of solar gain in designing the Golden Lane Estate had been pioneering – even if the phrase “solar gain” had not been in use at the time, and was itself influenced by the work of Le Corbusier.

Last month a colourful protest against the Denizen development was launched from the balconies of Bowater House, featuring slogans dreampt up by leading artists and writers including Iain Sinclair, Cornelia Parker, Turner Prize winners Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price and Booker Prize-nominated author Tom McCarthy.

A statement from the artists said: “Slogans such as ‘Zombie investors take stock’, ‘Homes for heroes’, ‘Children need sunlight to grow’ and ‘Parasites will starve in this carcass of culture’, oppose the new development and draw attention to the failure of neo-liberal dogma in Britain’s cities; its legacies of social cleansing, housing crisis, and damage to modernist architectural heritage, as well as the art-washing of urban devastation.”…

Read the full story here: https://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/golden-lane-campaigners-file-high-court-papers-/5090404.article

Mute Magazine covered the protest on 24 October: http://www.metamute.org/community/your-posts/spectres-modernism-artists-against-overdevelopment

Image above: Cornelia Parker banner in Spectres of Modernism. 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.

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

 

Spectres of Modernism Installation Shots

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

New Spectres Of Modernism Shots

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New shots of Spectres of Modernism: Artists Against Overdevelopment banner installation on Bowater House. Photography by Golden Lane Estate resident Charles Humphries.

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Featured artists are: Mark Aerial Waller, Fiona Banner, Deborah Curtis, Adam Dant, Jeremy Deller, Arnaud Desjardin, Margarita Gluzberg, Patrick Goddard, Pippa Henslowe, Stewart Home, Siu Lan Ko, Tom McCarthy, Fraser Muggeridge, Katrina Palmer, Cornelia Parker, Esther Planas, Elizabeth Price, Anjalika Sagar – The Otolith Group, Iain Sinclair, Gavin Turk, Eleanor Vonne Brown.
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Protest against the planned building of Taylor Wimpey’s overscaled The Denizen luxury apartment complex, which will steal sunlight from schools, homes & Fortune Street Park. Council tenants will lose up to 70% of the light from their living rooms. Denizen luxury apartments are being marketed off-plan to ghost home investors in South East Asia who won’t rent out or live in these dwellings; they’ll just leave them empty on the assumption they’ll accrue value in the overheated central London property market.
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The banners and the development site face each other across Fann Street, at the junction with Golden Lane, London EC1.
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“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane