Cressingham Gardens resident mounts life-affirming exhibition

Written by on June 2, 2017 in Art, Brixton People - 2 Comments
Mark leads the tour of his open-air exhibition

Mark leads the tour of his open-air exhibition

Cressingham Gardens, the model housing estate overlooking Brockwell Park that Lambeth council intends to demolish, is an open-air gallery this month.

Cressingham resident and photographer Mark Aitken, helped by a £10,000 Arts Council grant, has mounted nine giant portraits of people who live there on the sides of the threatened homes.

One can be seen by anyone using the Tesco filling station and convenience store on Tulse Hill.

Mark stressed on an opening day tour of the estate yesterday that his work is not campaigning – he leaves that to the “warriors” on the estate – nor seeking to portray residents as victims.

“It’s life affirming,” he says. “It shows us in our houses and it shows our ambiguity. We are treated as victims, but none of us are victims, we just live here.”

Mark with Helen Carr, and his portrait of her

Mark with Helen Carr, and his portrait of her

When he found out that the estate was scheduled for demolition, he told the visitors on the tour, “I was angry. I had to deal with it”. He turned to his talent to do so.

The stunning images in his “Sanctum Ephemeral”  – rough translation: safety is short-lived – exhibition will be on show at Cressingham Gardens all this month. There will be other events, including another tour on 15 June.

“The photographs are an exploration of how home as a repository of memory defines identity,” he says. “We define our homes. Our homes define us”.

Estate residents who took part were aged from one to 96. All the pictures were shot in the natural light that was designed into the estate’s homes by Lambeth council architect Ted Hollamby in the early 60s.

Mark with Micahael who nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened his curtain to see his picture on the wall opposite his window

Mark with Micahael who nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened his curtain to see his picture on the wall opposite his window

The portraits are exhibited on large PVC sheets mounted on house exteriors.

The exhibition is part of the month-long London Festival of Architecture – one of 500 events of the festival that has the theme of memory.

You can pick up the exhibition newspaper throughout Brixton. It is designed for use as a wall or window exhibition.

Further information on the campaign to save Cressingham Gardens at savecressingham.wordpress.com.

Mark’s is not the first exhibition of Cressingham residents. The Blog and Bugle mounted one in 2015.

Another London Festival of Architecture and Arts Council funded event at the Cressingham estate will be the launch in the estate’s rotunda building at 7.30pm on 22 June of the book 306: Living Under the Shadow of REGENERATION, by writer in residence Anne E Cooper and other residents.

Mark with his portrait of Victoria and Victorina

Mark with his portrait of Victoria and Victorina

 

Mark with John. He was the life and soul of a pre-exhibition show in Peckham. People loved the picture of him in his kitchen

Mark with John, 89. He was the life and soul of a pre-exhibition show in Peckham. People loved the picture of him in his kitchen

 

Some of the exhibition images can be seen from Brockwell Park

Some of the exhibition images can be seen from Brockwell Park

 

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2 Comments on "Cressingham Gardens resident mounts life-affirming exhibition"

  1. Greg Smith June 3, 2017 at 7:54 pm ·

    great work Mark x

  2. Mr &Mrs Campbell June 2, 2017 at 2:08 pm ·

    I am so proud of those portraits of fellow Cressingham Gardens residents. They show life and community on a estate of all ages , why spoil it Lambeth .

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