Image 5″ x 7″ created using Gocco print on textiles
I have recently moved into a tenement. After having spent my entire life not living in a tenement, I am finding this new way of existing very, uhm, interesting. Interesting in the fact that I can hear the doorstairs door, four flights of stairs below, shut every time someone goes in and out. Interesting in that my own door somehow does an airlock bang every time the door downstairs shuts. Interesting in that I can hear the people below my flat swearing at 3am. Interesting in that I most certainly never feel alone because of all the muffled sounds. Interesting in that the lady that lives across the hall from me hates dogs and I’ve got a big one. Interesting in the fact that someone likes using the stairwell for a smoking corridor. Yes. Tenement life. I’m not actually complaining. It is actually interesting.
Currently, I am exhibiting a rather large work of art which I had to do scad loads of research, digging up all sorts of information and learning the much loved skill of trawling through websites, archives and libraries on a hunt to find out more about my family. I found it interesting finding out where they lived and how they lived. Very fortunately, I was able to visit these places. I saw the place where the paper mill in Ivybridge (UK) was located, where my ancestors lived 200 years ago. I found the Georgian house in Dudley (UK) where my ancestors lived and worked as a Master Hosier – knitter of hosiery. My grandfather’s cousin gave me a photograph of the mud house my ancestors made on their farm in Nebraska, circa 1894. And then of course there was the farm house from 1924, and more recent homes which look a lot more like the ones in which I grew up in. (For more information on that project, please visit The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography).
Tenement living is something quite other. There are two museums that I know of – I’m sure there are several more – dedicated to tenement living throughout the years. There’s the Tenement Museum in New York, which I would like to visit if I ever find myself in that city again. There is one closer to home in Glasgow, The Tenement House which I would like to wander around someday soon. A little bit history. A little bit ‘why did people choose to cover their walls in that garish colour?!’
And my shameless plug is this: If you’re diggin the above artwork, I make bespoke tenements. You can have one of your very own for just £40.