A big thank you to Mark Lungley leading the Gallery Visits last Friday and who was happy to make a detour to Bowater House, Golden Lane Estate, quietly tucked behind the Brutalist Barbican building. I hope others found it interesting. Despite being Friday afternoon and so close to the hubbub of the ‘Square Mile’, the area had a residential feel with a palpable sense of community. The artists, in conversation with the local residents, have used language/text, in the form of banners, to collage the block of flats opposite the intended luxury apartment block. This is protesting against the overdevelopment, which will overshadow local schools and properties, cutting out light and providing accommodation that will be out of the economic reach of the existing community. What I was interested in was the collective punch that this art project is hoping to offer to the community through collaboration. I believe most artists involved have ties with the local community (the curator is Clare Carolin .. who has lived in Bowater House for 20 years and this installation reflects her specialist interest in modern architecture and the aesthetic of protest) and it is the collective artistic voice making an impact on the everyday lives of people in London whose life is being impacted in a negative way. Also, I have a developing interest in text in contemporary art and discovered that the typeface used in the banners is Bureau Grotesque 37 (interesting name) which was used on the original 1950s signage on the Golden Lane Estate. Fiona Banner, one of the ‘Banneristas’, uses text and language frequently in her work and appropriately, language is a material that is dominant in urban landscapes. A final point is that the banners are going to be auctioned off to raise funds for legal fees to the Save Golden Lane Campaign. Someone mentioned that they didn’t think this installation was art, that it was protest. It is protest, for sure, but can’t you hear the artists using visual language and shouting from the balconies?
PS I can’t rotate the second image of the building the developers want to level, so apologies for any neck strain. I’ll try harder next time.