Tag: development

Blue fence in Lewisham

Photography June 21, 2016

M Corcoran 2016, blossom tree behind the blue fenceBlue fence, empty land behind…I’ve been watching and photographing this fence for at least a year now. Wondering how it can remain unoccupied when so many people in London face a housing crisis; Suspecting that would be property developers were holding on to it, watching their investment rise… Over many months, the blue fences have been broken down, patched up again, repainted. They’ve warped in the sun and rain, they’ve been decorated with sherbet coloured graffiti. Someone installed a peephole with a convex lens. A poster nailed to the fence reads, “We’re full of business ideas?” above the heads of a crowd of people. They are without feet as the bottom half of the poster is missing. I’ve heard dogs barking, playing somewhere across the far side of the land, and birds singing in the shrubbery. Now I see that a development is planned, and that 65% of properties will be at market rate. We all know the market is inflated beyond even the average earner, let alone the marginalised and impoverished. So goodbye fence, goodbye blossom tree, goodbye someone’s hope for a home.

After writing this, I found out that there is a petition. The page also contains information about the planned development – Lewisham Council: Develop Besson Street for Local Housing Needs

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House keys

Work in progress, Writing July 15, 2015

As the door closed, I noticed that I did not have my keys. The second when you realise that your plans have been fundamentally rearranged is one of suspension. It provokes a laugh. A moment of stillness before everything runs awry.

Locking myself out of my home today is nothing profound or major. I lost only a few hours. But I noticed that the moment of suspension, where the ridiculousness of your situation is revealed to you, is not much different to the same moment one experiences upon hearing life altering information. When we hear that we have lost more than just a few hours – a loved one, a dream, a home – that one split second is actually remarkably similar. Afterwards, it all rains down on us and laughter may abandon us for a long time, maybe forever.

I tend to err on the side of the absurd and I remember being in fits of giggles with my cousins as we rode to our grandfather’s funeral. Mainly because we were in a hearse. There is actually something hilarious about being in a hearse. Laughter and weeping seem to be a short flick away from one another.

I have had the privilege to often feel a strange kind of creative potential when things have gone awry. Or maybe it is a writer-photographer’s inclination towards observation at moments of heightened emotion. Being outside yourself as you experience life changing things is very elating.

In an attempt to gain access to my flat, I was on a train to pick up some keys. The Battersea development loomed to my right. What you can see there at the moment is an ultra-HD building site on a massive scale. The spokes and spikes and cranes and cords; the high vis-jackets and hard hats and fences and scaffolding; a whole mass of detail and structure. There are hundreds of glass panels, hundreds of concrete frames where balconies will be. The off-white chimneys of the old power station are set to be engulfed by a grey tide.

London is a tide itself and I am not a preservist. But those blank grey boxes seem to prophecy the empty spaces they will soon be for absent investors. Change is the nature of London, change is creative potential, but empty houses mean that someone has lost a home. Somewhere a life is going awry in a fundamental way, never to be hauled back to the promised framework.

Metaphor is knitted into the fabric of things – it’s only a matter looking at it in a certain way. As the train turns the corner towards Victoria station, a piece of graffiti reads: “It only takes a minute girl”.

For the powerful there are split second decisions that change everything. For the weak there are split second revelations that change everything. There is after all, the moment when something was possible, and the moment when it stops being possible. There is the closing of opportunity, and the asserting of one reality.  There is a liminal space within that moment in which strange things happen.

I’ve started writing about development in London because I think it needs to be visualised, and in a more simple sense, because I am starting to feel it. I am not the poorest, I am not the richest. I am very lucky, I have a good education, I have some debts. I come from a working class family that became to all effects middle class thanks to the last period of social mobility. I guess this set me up to be hyper-class-conscious (as you might call it). I’d rather say, I think empathy is everything that matters.

Now back in ‘my’ flat and with more to follow.