Week 9: Brief 3

Studio Practice

How can a message be enhanced through the medium in which it is implemented?

Communicate an emotion that you perceive your city or a chosen location to be ‘about’. Take the word and use an appropriate material/form/medium whether 2D, digital, 3D or immersive.

Communication design challenge

Take an emotion and create a material response to how you communicate that emotion in material and form. You may choose to communicate the word directly or you may choose to create a juxtaposition if there is a contradiction or tension, i.e. New York is Tense.

 

Walthamstow is mosaic

Walthamstow is incredibly rich in history, creativity and industry, as well as being very multicultural. Waltham Forest is Borough of Culture this year, so I’m finding ways in which the people of Walthamstow are coming together. There are signs hanging from the streetlights to advertise this, and I love how they are highlighting how culture is beneficial to all of us.

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Mosaic is an ancient art form, and maybe not technically an emotion, but it’s the word I feel best describes Walthamstow. Each piece is worthy in its own right and together makes a rich and detailed image. I will be taking parts of the cultural history and bringing it together to make a new piece that represents Walthamstow as it is today.

week9map2

Here’s a map of Walthamstow, for context! In the past, the waterways to the west of the area were used for various industries. In the 14th century, the River Lea was diverted to the Coppermill Stream that powered the mill to grind corn. In the late 17th century, the mill was used as a paper mill, and the name of the stream was changed to Paper-mill River. It might have also been used as a gunpowder mill in the English Civil War, as other mills in the Lower Lee Valley were. Late it was used as a mill to roll out copper ingots transported by canal and river from Swansea to flat sheets of copper, which were then used pressed to become coins of a local currency.

Now, the view is different, with homes being bought over by city workers and land being developed into properties not many can afford.

In reality, our well-being came second to the deep pockets of private developers. My home—an area so rich in culture and life, a place I’ve built memories with for over a decade—will be demolished, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/other/no-place-like-home-what-its-like-to-be-forced-out-by-gentrification

Process

To make my project, I planned to make a mosaic using pieces of food packaging from different cultures and using different languages on the packaging. Walthamstow is a diverse area, as I talked about in a challenge a few weeks ago, and I noticed many food shops catering to cultures on my walk along the High Street. Food is also a unifying element in many lives: we eat together to build bonds, no matter where we come from. Cutting up the packaging is deliberately destructive, but bringing it together creates a multi-cultural meal.

With a little more time, I would have sourced delicacies from each culture and featured these, as well as attempting an in-depth conversation with the people I met in the shops about their experience of Walthamstow. As it was, it was close to closing time and I wanted to ensure I was able to get to as many as I could. I didn’t find as much food packaging with Tamil or Urdu on, so I bought locally-produced newspapers in those languages.

The image I planned to make a mosaic of is the doorway of a Warner house: two doors brought together in an archway. As I explained above, Warner houses and flats were affordable housing in the 1940-60s that brought many new people to the area, and they were welcomed into the community. In this article a longstanding resident of Walthamstow points out that even at affordable rates, the person on the average income of the area cannot afford the new properties being built. As white, middle-class and working in the media, I feel like I am perpetuating the problem of gentrification wherever I move. The choice of using the Warner house of time gone past is a symbol of a time when Walthamstow was genuinely affordable and how these properties are now coveted by people moving into the area.

Here are images of the packaging and food I bought:

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Stumbling Block

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This is the point I have got to thus far. I was cutting up my packaging and started to arrange it, and hit a huge block of self-doubt that I couldn’t move around. I feel it looked like a school child’s art project.

What do others think?

In the seminar, Kris said that the liked  the flat lay, and that it reminded her of images like this:

If I were to do this project again, I would completely forget about the mosaic of the Warner house fronts, and instead, concentrate on my visual centre being a flay lay.  I would interview the people working in the shops and ask them to pick a food item that meant a lot to them and to describe the story behind it. The flat lay image would have rollover portions where you could listen to the people talk about their chosen food.

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