Thamesmead Xanadu (2021)

Bow Open 2021 at the Nunnery Gallery

Back in 2019 the demolition of Thamesmead 60s estate brutalist architecture started. Having moved in 2018 as part of a scheme partnership between Peabody and Bow Arts that provided low-cost accommodation for artists and creative practitioners we were well aware it was temporary.

As soon the preparation for the phased demolition began, I started taking pictures, just around my residential area in Abbey Wood using my old analogue camera and a decade old Polaroid film stock. Somehow, I felt that the expired film with reduced contrast and faded grey blues and yellows resonated with what was happening around me. There was no clear plan to make a series or take it further.

As soon the number of pictures began to amount I realise that a story of some sort was being told. A certain visual nostalgia and a dystopian city were ending. At this point, I was encouraged to make a cohesive body of work and exhibit it. The idea stayed with me and slowly sank in.

Being a visual artist, I was immediately drawn by the colours of the printed pictures and that determined the name I was looking for this project; Xanadu*, a colour that in essence summed up my chromatic impression of Thamesmead.


*Xanadu in a CMYK colour space is composed of 14.2% cyan, 0% magenta, 10.4% yellow and 47.5% black.