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what’s been happening: new projects, ventures, invitations and links to work on other sites and works in progress

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Lightboxes + Lettering

Rendezvous’s project about print in East London is building up into its last stage, working on the project book and also planning the final show at Nunnery Gallery in Bow. This week we had some press coverage from the East London Advertiser. You can read the full piece here.

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Foresight: AA Visiting School in Stuttgart


This is the side elevation of this amazing building in the abk, State Academy of Fine Arts, where we were running the Foresight Visiting School for ten days. Undoubtedly the most beautiful space I’ve ever worked in. With Sue Barr, we were delivering a photography and writing programme as a way of looking at and imagining architecture in the future. Naturally, this involved looking at spaces and places from the past, such as the Hannibal estate, Weissenhof, the modernist exhibition site/housing estate with buildings by Corb, Mies, Taut, Gropius, among others, as well the Stadtbibliothek and the contentious Stuttgart21 regeneration of the Hauptbahnhof.

Directed by abk’s Marianne Mueller and Fahim Mohammadi, we had a delightful group of 11 students, highly engaged and productive. Their work was impressive too, especially given the timescale; some worked from image to text, some text to image, and their writing touched on many forms. These included: manifesto, lament, autobiography, poetry concret, letter, postcard, fiction, poison pen, dialogue, monologue, scripts, utopias and dystopias and disruptions and interventions in all of the above. There were provocations, threats, questions, interrogations.

The images here show the Stirling Staatgalerie, the harbour and the work for the students’ final jury, with visiting critics photographer Peter Bialobrzeski and gallerist and publisher Marcus Hartmann.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world

I reread an earlier post from this year at the beginning of summer/end of teaching about ‘this is what I want to be doing’ – three projects in the pipeline – and this is what I’m already doing – another three, already in some state of progress. Oh the over-ambitious possibilities of what can be fitted in, when there’s also holidays and the (realistic) rest of teaching to be done.

Those that I want to be doing – the ruined Gillespie, Kidd, Koia seminary at Cardross in Dumbartonshire; the new piece in my waiting series; the ‘uncreative fiction’ idea (with thanks to Kenneth Goldsmith‘s book of the same name – will all be still taking tiny steps, in my head at least. My plan to visit the seminary this summer didn’t come off. This was partly because of fairly extreme weather: there’s not much point trying to do a site visit and document the place in pouring rain, especially when it’s a precarious ruin in the middle of the countryside. And again, I was trying to fit too much into a holiday. There could be something of a pattern emerging here.

Then, of those projects that I’m already doing, the Lightboxes + Lettering book and exhibition are steaming ahead, while The Alphabet Tax, my novel, has made big steps this summer in my head, if not quite yet on paper.

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Writing Stuttgart

I’m really excited that I’ve been invited to collaborate at the AA Visiting School in Stuttgart with Marianne Mueller and my friend and photographer Sue Barr.

This is the description of the School, we’ll be exploring ideas about ‘what life in the future will be like, through an exploration of our social, cultural and technological present. It will be based at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. We will work with fine art photographers and writers to capture emerging glimpses of life in the near future. We will carry out observational research, digital photography, image production and image manipulation, as well as creative and structured writing. Our work will be documented in a publication and shown in an exhibition. A series of field trips will give participants the opportunity to explore centres of innovation in and around Stuttgart.’

It’s right up my street, very pleased to be working on a project on future and speculative ideas about architecture. Some overlaps with my novel The Alphabet Tax too.

The Visiting School takes place from 6 to 14 September: see here later for more details.

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Lightboxes + Lettering

Walking round Hackney, Clerkenwell, Islington and Tower Hamlets in the last few weeks, I’ve been taking reference shots of where old print premises used to be. I’d decided on about 20 locations, for various reasons including the type of place, other material we’d found during the research process, printers mentioned in oral history interviews etc.

None of them exist anymore. This in itself is not so surprising, but it does go a long way to underline the importance of the project. It’s not just about developing technologies and their role in changing the print industry, it’s also about the changing nature of high streets and the role of regeneration initiatives in transforming neighbourhoods. As ever, plenty of interesting buildings to see, even if they’re nothing to do with the print trade anymore, or if they’ve been replaced by completely different buildings.

We may not want everything to stay the same: personally I don’t. But reminding ourselves of what was there and realising that there are other ways for cities and districts in them to look is always important.

This is on Pollards Row, Bethnal Green, close by to where the premises of JS Forsaith used to be.

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This is one of the doorways of what used to be Hartstein’s on Commercial Road.

2019-05-16 12.58.42 And the front facade on Commercial St.2019-05-16 13.08.31

And this one at Sugarhouse Lane in Stratford, erstwhile site of the Ink Factory, rather sums up the situation.

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Architecture and Culture

I’m very pleased to have been asked to sit on the editorial board of this important journal. A very good start to the summer!

Go here  to read more or submit an article.

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Global Encyclopedia of Women in Architecture

This is how Bloomsbury describe the forthcoming encyclopedia:

‘an ambitious and exciting challenge of The Bloomsbury Global Encyclopedia of Women in Architecture which aims to be the first comprehensive reference work on women in architecture, connecting globally the histories of female mentors, peers and forbears. Introducing readers to the notable and overlooked women of the global built world, unearthing hidden histories and helping to found a new field of historical scholarship, the encyclopedia will cover a key period in women’s history from 1960 to 2015 – from when the gender bar was lifted at iconic architecture schools to the present day.’

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been invited to contribute to it. More details to come.

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