It was a beautiful hot late-summer day on Sunday 15th September and people flocked to Knowle West for Open Doors Day. The special intergenerational resident led neighbourhood walks were all sold out and over 50 people were shown around the neighbourhood to discover hidden histories and personal stories.
Artist Holly Beasley-Garrigan shared a work in progress version of her new installation I, OBJECT presented in a residents house. I, OBJECT is a film installation created with local residents and supported by emerging filmmaker and Knowle West resident Dee Hassan. Through interviews with one person born in each decade since the estate was built, I, OBJECT aims to reflect on almost a century of lived experience via exploration of the everyday objects people hold dear. The site-specific installation places the ‘Macro’ of political posturing and planning policy alongside the ‘Micro’ of object biographies in order to challenge perceptions of who is traditionally permitted to tell working class stories. Audiences are invited to listen, explore, and shift focus from the Utopian dreams of the architects behind the ‘Garden Estate’ to the voices of the people who have to live on them.
Artist/architect George Lovesmith re-opened the community sewing space on the Broadway ‘Sew Clever’ and was doing digital embroidary, drawing and sharing more about his residency so far. Since starting the commission in May, George has been has been knocking on people’s doors, admiring hanging baskets and bold design choices and having garden-side conversations with Knowle West residents. This has enabled him to collect stories that catalogue the most impressive extensions, inspiring DIY, amazing adaptations, hacks and decoration in Knowle West homes and gardens. The personal touches people make to their homes are a form of everyday creativity that is worth documenting and speaks to the DIY spirit that runs through the community of Knowle West. George will be continuing to work in Sew Clever through early October to complete an embroidered hanging made with local residents.
People who used to live in the neighbourhood enjoyed returning and sharing memories, others who had never been before commented on how different the neighbourhood was to the way the media often portrays it. Everyone was enthused and intrigued to see how the art works would develop ready to be shared on October 17th, as part of the Festival of the Future City.