Entertainment

How Lack of Social Housing Has Destroyed Communities in British Towns and Cities

Two projects from LCC students explore how gentrification and austerity has affected inner-city and post-industrial communities differently.
August 13, 2020, 8:15am
'This Town' by Kate Hardy
Photo: Kate Hardy
Throughout August, VICE UK will be spotlighting projects from graduates across University of the Arts London.

Every summer, University of the Arts London holds physical showcases for their graduates. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, everything for 2020 has been moved online to UAL Graduate Showcase – a virtual platform created with IBM hosting work from thousands of students across art, design, fashion, communication, media and performing arts.

Throughout August, VICE UK will be spotlighting projects from graduates across the six colleges that make up University of the Arts London.

Below are two projects from LCC students exploring how the lack of social housing has destroyed both inner-city and post-industrial communities in different ways, using London and Darlington as case studies.

Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal (London College of Communication)
Beneath The City Doves

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

As redevelopment projects swallow up social housing in London, “Beneath the City Doves” captures social housing estates which will eventually cease to exist.

The work is a comment on the community displacement caused by gentrification and redevelopment, with the juxtaposition of 360 and drone cyanotype photographs forcing the viewer to look at social housing through two very different vantage points: the 360 shots portraying the estates as their own microcosm, and the drone shots documenting the buildings as they are before redevelopment.

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

“City Doves is another term for pigeons,” Sonam explains. “I felt the title fit perfectly in capturing a space that’s not quite on the ground, but sort of just below where the birds fly. This alludes to the fact the estates are in the process of being renovated, so not quite demolished and not quite rebuilt, but you have people in these spaces that are semi-existing.

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

'Beneath The City Doves' by Sonam Dorji Theo Tobgyal

“Using cyanotype printing was a statement on reverse development. So looking at these buildings, which are old, becoming new, I’ve taken new software and drones and 360 cameras, and reversed the process with cyanotype in a way that comments on counter development.”

Kate Hardy (London College of Communication)
This Town

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

“This Town” explores the contemporary issues causing people to leave small industrial towns like Darlington. The artist touches on her childhood, the economic collapse of the North East and the abandonment of post-industrial communities by the state. The work has a bittersweet tone as it recognises the power of Darlington’s community spirit, but also the fact that people still end up leaving.

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

“When you go to Darlington it’s still so industrial – there’s lots of open space – but it’s extremely dark,” Kate says. “The housing always reflects the income of the people who live in it. There hasn’t been a lot of change in Darlington, and there’s never been any funding into the north. There are all these cities and opportunities close by, but people are scared of leaving. I think it’s built within the socialisation of the town. I wanted to capture the essence of an abandoned town, and that it’s made me who I am.”

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

'This Town' by Kate Hardy

“The metaphor of the butterfly is significant, because you start off as a caterpillar in this town, you grow up, and you’re trying to develop, but when you’re a butterfly, you either move erratically in one place or go off into the wind and are never seen again.”

Discover more at the UAL Graduate Showcase.