As part of a research project, Michael Egan has been exploring the impacts of large-scale urban redevelopment on neighberhoods and outlying communities in London, specifically, the impact Nine Elms urbanization has had, and continues to have, on residents. and businesses along Wandsworth Road. The project includes a small exhibition that aims to highlight the aspects and qualities of those communities, as part of a critical reflection on the rapid change taking place in that area of the city.
The exhibition aims to challenge the modern 'glamorisation' of Nine Elms, celebrating the unique character and culture of Wandsworth Road by displaying different artistic proposals, in a creative dialogue that aims to reflect (and make others reflect) on these issues.
All The Things On Wandsworth Road
Sugarcane London, 517 Wandsworth Rd.
Opening: Monday 5th September
NOT MUCH DIFFERENT HERE
This is a universal issue and I believe that any of us, just living in a city of some size, easily witnesses the daily changes that occur while modernizing and adapting our cities, so that they are better able to cope with the challenges of modern the times... unfortunately, often destroying the old 'ways of life' in the process.
I have never been to Wandsworth Road or Nine Elms but I watch daily, walking through the center of Lisbon, an identical phenomenon to what happens in London. Whenever I look around at the horizon, I always see more than one crane (as probably also happens in that part of London), with those huge metal arms, outstretched, rising new, modern and glazed buildings, swallowing up the traces of History and of the stories of those who lived and worked there before, massifying urbanizations as also residents and commerce profiles.
These past months, in the historic neighborhood where I live and work, there is a fierce debate that opposes the community against the imposition of installing a metro station under the centenary garden that is the 'heart' of the neighborhood, which in fact seems incomprehensible when there are other locations that (although being less profitable for the metro company) would not have such a drastic impact on the unique character of one of the few traditional neighborhoods in Lisbon still existing.
The three drawings I made for this exhibition are a tribute to all communities that fight to preserve history and social and cultural diversity and refuse to die, dispersed in some forgotten periphery, whether on Wandsworth Road or in one of Lisbon's bairros.
AN IMAGINARY STREET
Taking as a reference the 'Six Piccadillies' series that Dieter Roth produced in 1969-70, each of my drawings represents part of an imaginary street where old buildings live side by side with other modern high rises, some already built, others still under construction.
This imaginary street was drawn from a collage of real photos of Wandsworth Road locations, juxtaposed out of order and out of context, so that while it doesn't exist as a whole, parts of it can be recognizable by the local community.
The discontinued montage of the photos also allowed me to accentuate one of the most relevant features of Wandsrworth Road, which is its disjointed and fragmented nature.
It is intentional that there are few or no pedestrians and cars in the street and is to highlight another side of Wandsrworth Road, which is the lack of street life and the many vacant shops, which I evoked through the choice of materials materials and techniques, that mimic both the dusty effect of the windows where you can draw with a finger, as the tattered paint and the holes in some facades, replicated on the drawing paper itself.
Over time, the conceptual behind these works, as well as the landscape of this imaginary street, will no longer have tangible references and these places will only exist in the imagination and memory of some people. So that is the social function of these drawings, which will probably survive some of the buildings represented: to demand from the viewers that, while observing them, to go beyond their playful appearance of shapes and colors, and to remember what it was, think about what it is, but mostly, about what changes the future will bring.
All things on Wandsrworth Road, 2022
plaster, glue, acrylic, charcoal and graphite
#1 - 44.2 x 73.1 cm | #2 - 44.7 x 124.2 cm | #3 - 44.7 x 131.5 cm