LS035 – Simon Terrill

This week Malcom is in conversation with the artist Simon Terrill who is currently in residence at the Balfron Tower in Poplar.

His suitably named Balfron Project, funded by Bow Arts Trust,  is part of an ongoing photographic project that gives people the chance to contribute to a portrait of a place. This has as much to do with people and communities as it does with places and he calls this work Crowd Theory.

The Balfron Tower was Erno Goldfinger‘s Brutalist precursor to the bigger Trellick Tower in North Kensington and has divided opinion almost since its’ inception.

Brutalism has certainly left it’s mark on London and is extremely contentious. Recently the Balfron’s near-neighbour Robin Hood Gardens also came under the spotlight.

There’s no doubt that people do become attached to these buildings and despite what some have observed communities do grow within them. They represent an optimistic period in British history and are much better designed than many of the new tower blocks, like the Strata Tower which seem to resemble the Ballardian vision of separation and segregation alluded to in High Rise.

Simon says of the Balfron “…so many windows, so many lives sustained and concealed within the soaring grey castle. Muse or monolith, as with all good monsters the Balfron Tower is an extraordinary thing to behold. From the outside it is a concrete giant that draws in its inhabitants through a freestanding service tower, from the inside it is alive with the movements of the organisms to which it plays host.”

The exhibition runs from the 6th – 26th January 2011 at the Nunnery Gallery, 183 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ

Originally broadcast November 25th 2010 on Resonance FM.

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