Thursday, 23 October 2014

Seroxat, Smirnoff, THC---Stanley Picker Gallery 9 October - 29 November 2014













Laura Oldfield Ford: Pray for Love
Stanley Picker Gallery Commission
2014
Pray for Love features in Laura Oldfield Ford’s exhibition Seroxat, Smirnoff, THC currently showing at the Stanley Picker Gallery. Oldfield Ford has spent the last year walking through the suburban edges of South West London as part of her Stanley Picker Fellowship research. Her work is concerned with issues surrounding contested space, landscape, architecture and memory, reworking the ‘drift’ as a subjective process of mapping territory along the lines of social antagonism.
Pray for Love is an autobiographical audio travelogue in which Laura Oldfield Ford delivers an elegiac personal and socio-political commentary on what she sees around her as she wanders through London and beyond into the suburbs. For her, a reversal has taken place; the suburb is the new inner city. In 2011 it was the suburbs that saw the most dramatic displays of collective violence. In Croydon, Edmonton, Catford and Streatham the barriers broke down and suddenly the suburbs became porous.





Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pray for Love transcript

Waterloo redundant Eurostar -
there is something uncanny and desolate about the sight of the eurostar terminal with its promise of glamourous international travel long departed. Now it seems tawdry, stained, mossy.. a testament to a more bouyant moment in the life of the south London terminal, always a dark and menacing place.

I want to walk round Waterloo, I want to remember those flats, 1930s, 1940s blocks I used to walk through them when I lived in the Elephant.   I liked that you could walk from the Elephant into the West End, away from there..it always seemed strange that the weirdness of the Elephant, the mosaic labyrinth beneath the roads, the 70s shopping centre, the subterranean market , the sprawling brutalist estates should be so close to central London.  It seemed so anachronistic, stranded in another epoch.

Waiting for the feeling of Autumn to come, now feels like a strange transitional zone, it feels suspended, as if we are trapped between times. Gone is the hedonism and euphoria of the heatwave, but the chill and glamour of a sharp, frosty autumn is yet to come.. we are suspended in a cloudy, almost humid malaise.. everyone is coughing and sneezing, it is grey and cloudy but about 20 degrees.


I remember those melancholy Sunday afternoons, must have been 1996,  my first term on foundation, drivng through Nine Elms . He was closed to the beauty and horror of the landscpae ..he would just say he didn't like it, hadn't really thought about it.. I was horrified by Nine Elms, that menacing silo,  the motorways and huge billboards designed to be seen from the train, and those lines, 12 running concurrently, the shifting and scithing..
I remember feeling that the place was forlorn, motorways, roundabouts and dead zones between. I later learned that the brutal tramp scene in clockwork orange was filmed in a subway beneath the motorway intersection here.

New Covent Garden market-- the skips outside,
the perpetual shift to the periphery..from West end to Nine Elms, from Covent garden, a wild semi derlict area in the 70s to a heritage theme park, tourist leisre zone..
now Nine Elms and Vauxhall subject to intense development...

What kind of city will it be if it is just housing for the wealthy?
I often wonder what London will be like if they close all the places like New Covent Garden market, the industrial areas, when they manage to decant the last social housing tenants out of the South East and into the sacrificed zones like Bradford. what will it be like when we're all shunted out beyond the North Circular and all that's left are the dreamscapes of the terminally dull, when it's all subsumed into a bland neoliberal gloss..what then? When our whole city becomes a heritage trail, a site of history walks, pop up shops and exorbitant 'street food' markets/


'40s flats , dark brick , ravine next to railway
Battersea
I wonder about him, I wonder where he ended up, I know he was living down here. I want to walk around those big estates, I wonder what the view is like from the bedrooms at the top.. big 1940s estates, I imagine boxy square bedrooms, with views out across a gouged landscape of railway ravines and isolated blocks..
I remember that train ride from Streatham to Robey, on the Thameslink..

Queenstown road
Clapham junction, Winstanley


Wandsworth town

Railway arch

Ivy

Roof terraces and palm trees

Putney,
Barnes
Roehampton

Alton estate

Modernist flats dusty forgotten interiors


Twickenham,
earthy autumn smell


Substantial town with architecture of stern disposition


Meringues, waxy cakes in windows..these little caverns, softly lit and unthreatening create the illusion we are getting closr to something we want..Costa, Starbucks, Patisserie Valerie..they've identified a yearning for a sense of belonging, of inclusivity--
Capitalism makes us feel bad, inadequacy and dissatisfaction reside at its locus, but it makes us feel temporarily better by giving us comfy chairs, .milky drinks, sugar and fat,
the idea of wanting a collective space is there//
but surely we could do it better.....


.. a whole industry built around this lifestyle, meeting for coffee, meeting for lunch, birthday presents, gifts for babies..

Twickenham

Was called underground scene
Attitudes crosed over, Gay lib , Black power ,Women's movement ,
a lot of stuff was free, squatting houses, looking for alternatives

Prominent figures, Editors of Oz
See them everywhere pubs and cafs
Electric cinema portobello finches epicentre

Finches pub, there were people on the street , characters, groups of kids who must have been about 10 in 1966, might have become punks, you start to see where it came from, the momentum, the energy, where it was being fired from,
the street.
Finches, used to be Duke of Wellington.
People on the street, dozens and dozens..the absence of shoppers, carrier bags..everyone out, drinking, entertainment, buskers.. blind accordianist, boozed up black geezers, saturday luunchtimes.. you don't see the shopping as leisure thing..this is what strikes you.

There is a smartness, no sportswear anywhere or casual attire.. jumpers and shirts..jackets, proper leather shoes.. the younger ones not wearing hats and long hair yeah but still better dressed--
the pub doors open, the atmosphere was  kind of licentiousness, the street as theatre.. a site of entertainment, .. encounters and collisions,, noise and shouting..
kids about , groups of hippies..
it looked really good then. 
Also the anti vietnam stuff going on. 
A flight from boring places like Upper Norwood and Heston to Portobello where the street dynamic was intense... disordered.. porous..not like the regimented stiffness of the houses in Heston or the starched curtains and matronly influence of sunday lunch in Upper Norwood..for the kids in Heston the sound of the ice cream van was an exciting event.. you can see why they flocked to Portobello when they became teenagers seeking adventures.


It became magnetic like Haight Ashbury, people drifted there from all over London, all over Britain..from everywhere..

There are scenes from Brentford market in late 1960s, they are ramshackle, sheds and wagons and old blokes with hats and coats trading.

Sunday speakers Hyde park meet up there
free gigs/
Twickenham


Artisan cottages, thought Twikenham would be more rustic and hippyish, it still is a bit along the Thames from here where the squatters have their barge encampments .. but the town has big stern buildings ..
Reminds me of how places of social and historical significance where there has been conflict and social unrest are always perceived as somehow other.. Like South central ,Compton and Watts, or Brixton , Tottenham and St Paul's
But they're are not monstrous, alien, brutal or weird but extensions of the cosy, the domestic ---

It is the homely that strikes fear..the recognition, the familarity,,when it erupts..opens, a chasm appears, a chasm opens in time..
the sacred has been blasphemed against.. property, that ultimate law..has been transgressed.

In Twickenham..the squats on Eel Pie island are evicted and the squatters cross the bridge and come over to the town finding rows of empty houses on Grosvenor Road.



Grosvenor road squats.. I thought of the images I had seen of the squats in the 70s, I recognised the road but unlike Eel pie there are no traces at all of any kind of countercultural occupation. I saw a checkerboard paving pattern in a front yard..i thought of freemasonry and the occult. There were gaps in the housing where I imagined the squats must have been.
The only people I saw were those types with white shirts and Next suits and plastic id badges on a ribbon around their necks..i don't like this new phenomenon, you see people moving purposefully through spaces with a territorial air, implying your presence there is somehow open to suspicion. ID cards by stealth.
It was difficult to imagine it being magical here because it seemed so cold and corporate somehow even though there were trees behind the houses and hollyhocks rampaging in small front gardens..

When I was standing by the Thames I was imagining it without the tourist and heritage aspect, without the yummy mummy boutiques, the kath kidston influence leeching along those narrow streets.. without the cars and the new, super expensive housing developments on the island itself.. I could sense how magical it must have been because the imprint was still there, the church, the street patterns, the old pubs, the trees and the river..i imagined the mists, the amber days of Autumn, the intoxication--..
Autumn 1992..travelling around the country,
paths leading then not to Ladbroke grove which by then had become subsumed by a coke fulled media scene..
In 1992 the muddy paths of the Thames were leading not to the simmering underground pads and boozers of Ladbroke grove but the squatted dole offices and empty factories of Peckham. The Archduke Charles, the squatted North Peckham estaes.. Sensor, RDF, the mob of itinerants, the militant reconfiguartion of the 80s convoy traveller scene. military surplus, special brew, super strength lager, dreadlocks, animal rights activism, acid and speed..


Once you start to wake up , they are everywhere..the signs..
you begin to hear the quiet buzzing of power , you notice where it lies, where it is held//
where it resides..encoded, encrypted..
it is distributed, power is dispersed..
not concentrated in one bombastic location like the City of London or the towers at Canary Wharf,
here it pulsates though Italianate gardens, the checkerboard patterns in extensive grounds.. the columns and neoclassicalfacades..
here one is transported to a rural idyll, a labyrinth by the river..a perfectly ordered and managed encounter with nature.
Inner city areas and the wilds of the Brisith Countruside have both been locked down and bought up by the wealhty.
This stretch of the Thames, 
Kingston, Teddington, Eel Pie, Twickenham , Richmond
 is a sequence of controlled landscapes , each square inch pulsates with symbolism and intent. In the sacrificed zones, the contemporary London suburbslike Croydon, Catford and Hounslow places become contingent, they unravel under a confusion of ownership, the interstices between boundaries become sites of conlfict,entropy and confusion. there are conflicts, encoutners, the slamming together and splintering of ideologies, beliefs and desires. There are mutations, the sliding and morphing of images and projections
..here there are blocks of power, landscapes buzzing with control,, money sitting contentedly in moats, ornamental lakes, crenellated walls and the curlicues and twisting vines of wrought iron gates..

but this is a war isn't it..CLASS WAR—they wage it on us.
their entire existence is based on powerful cliques, landownership, power mongering architecture--
the age old tactics of the ruling class,, inversion, sleight of hand, projection....‬



the suburbs are self medicating..
It used to be the inner cities where you could experience breaks in a landscpae of bland conformity..

The suburb is the new inner city, a reversal has taken place. Once maligned areas like Brixton, Hackney and Clapham have become the chic residences of a new bouregoisie; spaces once open for experimentaion and drifting have been locked down and sealed off; squatting has become illegal, being on the dole means attending endless time wasting courses constructed only to please Mr and Mrs Ukip in Middle England...time has been co opted, we no longer have time to wander and dream in a city where exorbitant rents take all your wages.
The desirability of investing in a brand, London World City , of having a santised hertiage industry and cultrual emblems ( the last remnants of an appropriated psychogeogreaphy) means that the working class of inner city London have been pogrammed out, subjected to an intense campagin of social cleansing.
Where do we end up? Is London becoming more like Paris, with a wealthy centre and an outer circle of ravaged banlieu? In London it feels as though the inner city has shifted to the periphery.
The suburbs emerge as two distinct catergories, zones of refuge and zones of sacrifice. The zones of refuge are the sites where bankers frazzled with siphoning public money go to relax and dream of heritage England, of Tolkein, of homes and gardens. These zones are places like Thames Ditton and Teddington, the constructed idylls where a banker can base the wife and kids while he blows his bonus in the strip clubs and drinking dens of the City.
The zones of sacrifice are the areas that have been allowed to decay amidst sites of gentrification, one such example is Streatham which is held captive on all sides by gentrification as Balham, Brixton and Tooting are swept up in the ghoulish horror of Cath Kidston and cup cake baking.
Often these areas sit side by side, Twickenham and Hounslow for example, or Windsor and Slough.

These zones of sacrifice are areas seemingly starved of investment and set aside for those who are deemed necessary to the economy but regarded as undesirable, the workforce who subsist on zero hours contracts in the service sector, in precarious work, the jobseekers, call cente workers, those driven to the brink of madness by payday lenders and ATOS. There are few places left to rent in London that don't exeed the housing benefit cap. The overheated south east property market, the welcoming of non domiciles, the auctioning of new developments in Singapore and Hong Kong and local authority housing policy is driving working class people out, into the zones of sacrifice, into the suburbs. Those ending up in the fraying edges of Croydon, Hounslow, and Streatham are the lucky ones, others get decanted to the north, to the vast zones of sacrifice up there, like Bradford.
These suburbs are the new transient zones, where architecture is provisional and lanes behind rows of semi detached housing reveal gardens sprawling with camps and dormitories. The inner city has become about ownership, about property investment, even decrepit flats in once notorious housing estates have been sold off and are rented out at ludicrous rents. The suburbs have become the temporary homes of migrant workers, of the low paid, of the work force in the service and construction sectors who, in their high visibilty vests have becomne largely invisible.

What happens when you're forced to spend hours immersed in stultifying work? What happens when you're working split shifts at a Mcdonalds in the middle of a traffic island near Heathrow airport, when you're living in a travelodge in Sunbury working on the construction of some luxury development, or stuck in a call cetre in Croydon hassling people all day about loan repayments. Some seek solace in marginal political ideologies, the EDL, Al Muhajiroun, the comfort and camaraderie of faith with the thrill of violence to puncture the boredom.
But mostly you self medicate. The suburbs are hallucinating, England is hallucinating. Monster Ripper and Smirnoff, Brandy Boost, oversized glasses of chardonnay at Weterspoons monday club, valium scored for a few quid in the pub , the stink of weed drifting from portakabins , red eyes and yellow bibs.. The pharmecuticals indiustry is one of UK Plc's biggest success stories ( along with arms dealing and loans companies) as prescriptions for anti depressants are kept on repeat.
We're all hallucinating, in a landscape that has become more surreal and more authoritaruan in equal measure. The physical landscape has become infantilised, we are spoken to in baby voices by cereal packets and drinks cartons and are subjected to the ubiquitous sight of cartoon characters looming down from billboards offering us payday loans. And yet life in this country has never seened more coercive. More consumer choices than ever before, 'have it your way', but always within the narrowest set of parameters,,the moment you step out of line and express your anger the weight of the law comes crashing down, four years for nicking a bottle of water, the 2011 riots loom large in the suburban pysche.

In 2011 it was the suburbs that saw the most dramatic dispalys of collective violence. Croydon, Edmonton, Catford, Streatham, these towns, these suburban sites have become thr repositories of a class anger that for most of the time stays pent up in the cellular strucutres of housing estates. In rooms where you sit drinking supermarket lager in front of flat screen tvs, smoking weed playing x box, anger and frustration is sucked inwards..it is sublimated in a cascade of pahamecuticals and self help platitudes. Fluoxetine, citraloporan, CBT, it's all about fixing the individual. To be happy in the face of this disaster neoliberalism has wrought would surely be the pathological response?
In 2011 the barriers broke down, the estates and streets of the suburbs, instead of being selaed corridors suddenly becmae porous, terrirtorial markers melted, the streets became the site of collective engagement with the spectacle of consumerism. The anger was directed twoards pawnbrokers, retail parks and high street stores , places taunting us every day.
In the new suburban enclaves, in the zones of sacrifice, there resides a surplus work force moving in a precarious fashion between flats in condemned buildings and camps under mortoway flyovers and patches of wasteground. There are buried channels, plots and cells.
The suburbs, once the site of order and domesticity are unravelling.









Sunday, 28 September 2014

SEROXAT, SMIRNOFF, THC--- 9 October - 29 November 2014
































...the suburbs are self medicating..

The suburb is the new inner city, a reversal has taken place. Once maligned areas like Brixton, Hackney and Clapham have become the chic residences of a new bouregoisie; spaces once open for experimentation and drifting have been locked down and sealed off; squatting has become illegal, being on the dole means attending endless time wasting courses constructed to please Mr and Mrs Ukip in Middle England...time has been co opted, we no longer have time to wander and dream in a city where exorbitant rents take all your wages.
The desirability of investing in a brand,  London World City, of having a santised heritage industry and cultural emblems ( the last remnants of an appropriated psychogeography) means that the working class of inner city London have been pogrammed out, subjected to an intense campagin of social cleansing.
Where do we end up? Is London becoming more like Paris, with a wealthy centre and an outer circle of ravaged banlieu? In London it feels as though the inner city has shifted to the periphery.
The suburbs emerge as two distinct catergories, zones of refuge and zones of sacrifice. The zones of refuge are the sites where bankers frazzled with siphoning public money go to relax and dream of heritage England, of Tolkein, of homes and gardens. These are places like Thames Ditton and Teddington, constructed idylls where a banker can base the wife and kids while he blows his bonus in the strip clubs and drinking dens of the City.
Zones of sacrifice are the areas left to decay amidst sites of gentrification ; think of Streatham, held captive on all sides as Balham, Clapham and Tooting are swept up in the ghoulish horror of Cath Kidston and cup cake baking.
Often these areas sit side by side, Twickenham and Hounslow for example, or Windsor and Slough.
These zones of sacrifice are areas seemingly starved of investment and set aside for those who are deemed temporarily necessary to the economy but regarded as undesirable, the workforce who subsist on zero hours contracts in the service sector, the jobseekers, call cente workers, those driven to the brink of madness by payday lenders and ATOS. There are few places left to rent in London that don't exeed the housing benefit cap. The overheated south east property market, the welcoming of non domiciles, the auctioning of new developments in Singapore and Hong Kong and local authority housing policy is driving working class people out, into the zones of sacrifice, into the suburbs. Those ending up in the fraying edges of Edmonton, Barking and Slough are the lucky ones, others get decanted to the north, to the vast zones of sacrifice up there, like Bradford.
These suburbs are the new transient zones, where architecture is provisional and lanes behind rows of semi detached housing reveal gardens sprawling with camps and dormitories. The inner city has become about ownership, about property investment, even decrepit flats in once notorious housing estates have been sold off to the private rental market. The suburbs have become the temporary homes of migrant workers, of the low paid, of the work force in the service and construction sectors who, in their high visibilty vests have become largely invisible.
What happens when you're forced to spend hours immersed in stultifying work? What happens when you're working split shifts at a Mcdonalds in the middle of a traffic island near Heathrow airport, when you're living in a travelodge in Sunbury working on the construction of some luxury development, or stuck in a call cetre in Croydon hassling people all day about loan repayments. Some seek solace in marginal political ideologies, the EDL, Al Muhajiroun, the comfort and camaraderie of faith with the thrill of violence to puncture the boredom.
But mostly you self medicate. The suburbs are hallucinating, England is hallucinating. Monster Ripper and Smirnoff, Brandy Boost, oversized glasses of chardonnay at Wetherspoons monday club, valium scored for a few quid in the pub , the stink of weed drifting from portakabins , red eyes and yellow bibs.. The pharmecuticals indiustry is one of UK Plc's biggest success stories ( along with arms dealing and loans companies) as prescriptions for anti depressants are kept on repeat.
We're all hallucinating, in a landscape that has become more surreal and more authoritaruan in equal measure. The physical landscape has become infantilised, we are spoken to in baby voices by cereal packets and drinks cartons and are subjected to the ubiquitous sight of cartoon characters looming down from billboards offering us energy tariffs and payday loans. And yet life in this country has never seened more coercive. More consumer choices than ever before, 'have it your way', but always within the narrowest set of parameters,,the moment you step out of line and express your anger the weight of the law comes crashing down, four years for nicking a bottle of water, the 2011 riots loom large in the suburban pysche.
In 2011 it was the suburbs that saw the most dramatic dispalys of collective violence. Croydon, Edmonton, Catford, Streatham, these towns, these suburban sites have become thr repositories of a class anger that for most of the time stays pent up in the cellular strucutres of housing estates. In rooms where you sit drinking supermarket lager in front of flat screen tvs, smoking weed playing x box, anger and frustration is sucked inwards..it is sublimated in a cascade of pahamecuticals and self help platitudes. Fluoxetine, citraloporan, CBT, it's all about fixing the individual. To be happy in the face of this disaster neoliberalism has wrought would surely be the pathological response?
In 2011 the barriers broke down, the estates and streets of the suburbs, instead of being selaed corridors suddenly becmae porous, terrirtorial markers melted, the streets became the site of collective engagement with the spectacle of consumerism. The anger was directed towards pawnbrokers, retail parks and high street stores , places taunting us every day.
In the new suburban enclaves, in the zones of sacrifice, there resides a surplus work force moving in a precarious fashion between flats in condemned buildings and camps under mortoway flyovers and patches of waste ground. There are buried currents, plots and cells. 
The suburbs, once the site of order and domesticity are unravelling.

http://www.stanleypickergallery.org/programme/seroxat-smirnoff-thc/

Thursday, 18 September 2014






























“…the suburbs are self-medicating, the suburbs are hallucinating, England is hallucinating…”
In 2011 it was the suburbs that saw the most dramatic displays of collective violence. In Croydon, Edmonton, Catford, Streatham, the barriers broke down and the suburbs suddenly became porous, territorial markers melted and the streets became the site of collective engagement with the spectacle of consumerism, the anger directed towards pawnbrokers, retail parks and high street stores.
A reversal has taken place; the suburb is the new inner city. The situation is fractured and complicated but, after a year spent walking around the outer reaches of South-West London, artist Laura Oldfield Ford argues the suburbs emerge as two distinct categories: Zones of Refuge where bankers, frazzled with siphoning public money, relax and dream of heritage England, of Tolkein, of homes and gardens; and Zones of Sacrifice, the areas allowed to decay amidst sites of gentrification, held captive on all sides by the ghoulish horror of Cath Kidston and cup-cake baking.
“What happens when you’re forced to spend hours immersed in stultifying work; split-shifts at McDonalds in a traffic island near Heathrow, living in a Travelodge in Sunbury working on the construction of some luxury development, or stuck in a call-centre in Croydon hassling people about loan repayments. You might seek solace in marginal political ideologies, the EDL, Al-Muhajiroun, the comfort and camaraderie of faith, with the thrill of violence to puncture the boredom. But mostly you self-medicate.”
Laura Oldfield Ford (b.1973 Halifax, West Yorkshire) is a London based artist and writer. Her work is concerned with issues surrounding contested space, landscape, architecture and memory, reworking the ‘dérive’ or drift as a subjective process of mapping territory along the lines of social antagonism. Awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship in 2013, she has spent the last year walking through the outer-edges of South West London. Recent exhibitions include Ruin Lust Tate Britain (2014), Recording Britain V&A (2012) and Anarchy Unmasked British Library (2014). She is the author of Savage Messiah (Verso, 2011).
To accompany this exhibition Laura Oldfield Ford has produced the very first of our Stanley Picker Gallery Editions available for sale directly from the venue.
Associated Events:
Launch Event: Wed 8 Oct 6-8.30pm / All Welcome
Laura Oldfield Ford Talk at Sir John Soane’s Museum: Fri 24 Oct / Time (tbc)
Visit www.soane.org for booking information
Suburban Drifts: Sat 25 Oct & Wed 12 Nov 2-5pm (weather permitting)
Join Laura Oldfield Ford on a walking tour of the local suburbs / Free Event / Booking Essential
Stanley Picker Gallery Talk with Laura Oldfield Ford: Wed 12 Nov 7pm / Drinks 6pm / All Welcome
Image: Laura Oldfield Ford Cash4Gold (detail) acrylic and marker pen on watercolour paper (2014) Courtesy the Artist
- See more at: http://www.stanleypickergallery.org/programme/seroxat-smirnoff-thc/#sthash.0mh5nKVU.dpuf

Friday, 25 April 2014

Zones of Sacrifice- 1990-2014



Brutalist architecture has haunted my life. It has always been there as an obsession, an enduring, compelling aesthetic, and a site of possibilty and emergence. When I was a child we moved house quite a lot, the cast always reshuffled alongside a changing landscape.
I remember journeys along the A64 to visit my Dad. I must have been six or seven. We would drive through Leeds past the tower blocks of Seacroft, through the tunnels with their mosaics and orange lights, the International pool , Merrion Centre and Quarry Hill flats. The brutalist architecture of Leeds indelibly marked me; these journeys were emotionally heightened, suffused with a kind of sublime anxiety.

My early memories of family life are embedded in the black stone terraces , 70s new builds and post war council estates of West Yorkshire. Later we moved to a street of 1930s red bricks houses in Scarborough. Brutalist architecture seemed transcendent , totally beyond the microworlds I inhabited in my Grandma's semi detached house.
As I got older my relationship with brutalism intensified , the almost detached feeling of  theatricality gave way to an experience of immersion and involvement. It was the beginning of the 90s and a roving crew of itinerants had started occupying the many abandoned housing estates around the UK.
I was squatting in Leeds at the time, in dilapidated red brick back to backs in the Woodhouse and Hyde Park areas. Some weekends we would go across to Hulme in Manchester for big gatherings of punks and travellers in the massive and horrifying Crescents. There would be soundsystems in abandoned pubs and the entire estate would be reconfigured as decomissioned ambulances and lorries parked up in the communal grounds. We went across to Wakefield sometimes and Bradford where we knew people living on big estates, in high towers where whole corridors had been occupied by various subcultural tribes. It was a kind of Mad Max scenario , people had customised flats using steel that had boarded up windows and furniture made from palettes and planks. There was almost a siege aesthetic , a kind of defensive architecture constructed to guard against bailiffs and territorial narco-gangs .

When I came to live in London in the early 90s there were huge estates that had been squatted by anarchists. These were militant sites where the potential for resistance and conflict went far beyond lifestyle politics. The past decade had been marked by the Battle of the Beanfield, Broadwater Farm, Poll Tax riots, Claremont Road and a second wave of pit closures. In Dalston, Hackney and Stamford Hill areas were demarcated by black flags, rusting military vehicles and Class War graffiti. I remember communal dining rooms and cafes, meetings and benefit gigs, and parties where speaker cabs formed pyramids of window rattling bass. Those estates were like honeycombs, you could drift in and out of endless rooms and corridors.
In these politically charged spaces people were taking the problem of housing and homelessness into their own hands en masse. Hackney council were badly managing estates in the borough, leaving them standing empty. Many of us decided to take possession of ruined buildings where we could burrow in and create zones that defied and rejected the heavy handed imposition of a neoliberal system of values.
I remember most vividly the tranquil dream moments before an intense sequence of events like the Criminal Justice bill protests, or the Reclaim the streets actions and big anti capitalist demonstrations like J18 .These moments, where normal flows of commerce and exchange are disrupted, where everything seems fierce and interconnected are always preceded by a dreaming lull and it is those days of plotting and yearning that have stayed with me. I love those times when the fabric of the architecture suddenly feels charged with desire,, when whole blocks of flats become prismatic, municipal landings and desolate courtyards become steeped in those emotional states, momentarily vivid with eruptions of fluorescent pink and acid yellows.

Rave, the free party scene, had recodified whole swathes of the UK. Abandoned factories and warehouses, squatted estates and crumbling rows of Victorian housing became sites of rupture, euphoria and anxiety. Our lives, as itinerants were played out in the limimal zones, places that don't really belong to anyone, the kind of threshold places that sit between abandonment and speculation, no longer stridently urban but never fiiting in with ideas of bucolic prettiness. We would travel in convoy to parties on the edges of towns and cities. Places that, in their crepuscular state of ebbing away had become punctured with possibility. I always liked how the pioneer species, the tenacious brambles, sycamore and bindweed formed a complex labyrinthine landscape beneath the elevated stretches of the motorway . I liked the covert spaces under the map; how when you looked at the A-Z you saw the thick blue line of the motorway but it was only by being present in that place that you could describe the territories beneath. I remember sound systems setting up and motorway stanchions suddenly illluminated with an intense, almost flourescent glow .

These peripheral lands offered a certain refuge from the increasinging homogenisation and 'Americanisation' of the British landscape. Here you could avoid the snares of consumerism and advertisitng unless you were peering up at something designed to be seen from the motorway. These were largely unsurveilled places, ignored by ramblers and heritage obsessives. They were inhabited by a different kind of character, those who moved along the edges of society, the transient populations , the modern ragpickers.
Sometimes adhoc mosques might appear in portakabins or African churches in some industrial estate alongside traveller sites and illegal parties and gatherings. Scratches and markings ermerged as communuqués. Graffiti found here operated as a series of fluctuating currents, residing beyond the bland acceptibility of 'street art'' and official historical text. These glyphs and sigils were the markers of territory, the expression of brash desires and militant demands.

In 2001/2002 I lived on the Aylesbury estate in the Elephant and Castle. Generally acknowleged as the largest council estate in Europe alongside the adjoining Heygate Estate it was built in the early 1970s as a solution to slum clearances and the devastation of the Blitz. The two estates were a vast interlocking web of 'plattenbau' blocks interconnected by aerial walkways and concrete yards. It was a place that seemed to repress and contain its energies. The blocks were a seething maze , cliff faces pocked with satellite dishes. The windows opened at angles, reflecting the sun in blinding oblongs of gold.
I remember hating having no balcony, feeling trapped in my 12th floor flat which was very different to the estates I had known before. There were elevated walkways and strange sunken gardens with ornamental trees and neoclassical statues but they were almost always deserted even when the estate was fully populated. The moment of cataclysm didn't come for these estates, they didn't erupt like Broadwater Farm, and were never squatted en masse like the North Peckham or Stamford Hill. It always felt to me that the emotional life of the 11,000 tenants was fated to crackle and sizzle in confinement, energies always caught in the corridors and flats inside, only seeping out in summer when walls echoed and resounded with the sounds of kwaito, r and b and gime.

After the Blitz there was a chance to carve a new idealised vision from the ruins. It's easy to cite the narrative that these huge social housing projects failed because there was something intrinsically wrong with the architecture but it seems more likely that they didn't work because they were starved of investment. The Heygate and Aylesbury never felt like good places to me, they were a cheap, diluted version of the brilliant complexes by the likes of Goldfinger, Lubetkin, Luder or the Smithsons. But the disappearance of so much social housing is surely cause for lament.

The current demolition of the Heygate estate marks the end of an era . The estate was completed in 1974, the dying days of the post war consensus and the moment when neoliberalism began. The Heygate emerged in the embers of a time when the idea of collectivity was valued but was doomed to live out its life in the rapacious individualism of the Thatcher years. Now , in 2014 it lies in ruins, a network of desolate chambers, eerie tinned up rooms reverberating with the spectral sounds of a lost era.
These forlorn landscapes appear to me now as reliquarys, place where voices can chanelled and in some way transmitted. They have become eligiac sites where walls are imbued with memories, touch and experience. Walkways, courtyards and stairwells have become the crystallised emblems of another time.

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.
My work is a conflation of my own memories, fragments of journals and half remembered episodes. I revisit convoy culture, rave scenes and 80s political movements as way of channeling those lost voices, attitiudes and scenes . I feel that there is a substrata of anger and resistance in England, that there is always a buried current of class anger and resentment just below the surface. For me,walking around the gentirifed sectors of the city today is about tuning into that, predicting those cataclysmic moments , listening for a haunting of the new shopping centres and corporate landscapes. .

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.