Walking has taken over as a major form of personal transportation since the recent global outbreak of Covid-19, this form of transcending public space has significantly localised people’s existence in the wake of tight lockdown guidelines which dominated most of April, May and June in 2020. Whilst many have seen this as a form of personal restriction I have tried to embrace the challenge of localised living by finally getting to know the space with which I inhabit. For the project within four I selected 5 local landmarks within 4 kilometers walking distance from my house (there and back inclusive).

Walking to each destination I photographed the space and have subsequently spent time writing up a short 500-600 word account of the area, my feelings and the historical significance of the location. Leaning towards creative writing, each account utilises psycho-geographical tendencies as a way to attempt a reading and ultimately forge a connection with my local area.

Throughout July-early August this page will be updated weekly with each account.

Broadwater Farm

Desired outcomes, fiercely felt and sadly mis-laid / best laid plans that sheltered and pushed forward the creation of this place. In the heat the building hums, it digests the skyline so that all you see is the concrete bluff. A distant whistle, a door creaks, the sound of a yoyo hitting the tarmac, relentless potential energy which when confronted abandons your vision. Essentially you find yourself surrounded by the building but driven to isolation. I can see through the structure like a colander because it was suspended to distance itself from the nearby Moselle. I pitched the need for a visit and found any sense of life there sadly drained, it could have been the weather, but in comparison with roads I’ve walked down, lived down in Haringey this place felt abandoned - a possible design requirement to try and attempt to flatten the way in which people and especially those in places like Haringey were considered the problem. Demonised into the shadows this building’s silence felt not so much threatening but bipolar in comparison with the surrounding tread of the city-scape. Had it been evacuated, was it on the path towards demolition?

I hastened to add that I felt drained by the walk, I’ve been mulling this place over since my move to Haringey in 2016. Researching it from a distance, fascinating over it and contemplating how best to approach it. It was fiercely different to the other utopic suggestions and experiments in London which I’d visited - not gentrified, not completely demolished but also blundered by its past. It felt economically and emotionally awkward to arrive there with a camera with the full intention of just documenting the space, it didn’t feel like it either needed or wanted this attention and to that I felt embarrassed by my presence. Unlike the Barbican preening in the sun, BWF was reticent.

If there was life it was understandably hidden from view, the traits of ‘issue estates’ are how visible they are forced to be. How the attention is given continuously without consent, people with cameras in their hands turning up unannounced. Queesy. The dehydration of plus 20s heat and exhaustion, it takes me over 45 minutes to walk to this place in the sun and my body couldn’t go any slower. The pace is probably better as I have a lot to digest; October 5th 1985 saw the death of a resident, the next the streets harvesting a chaos which only an estate like BWF could garner, because there kids are asking when their skin is going to turn a different shade from Black to White. If the 80s refused to cut the place some slack the rest of it was due to burn.

Institutions unable to swallow their pride have bloated BWF was their ineptitude, the concrete has housed more than one death and maybe it was this memory which I felt that afternoon? When. You. Actually. Know. That. Death. Happened. Here. That knowledge is sacred and creates a scrubland for particles to cling to the cladding, how much of that begins to multiply and how can a person expect to live within its suffocation. I look into blank wallpapered rooms opposite bus stops which serve to act like a township. The isolation built here seems purposeful.

Markfield Park Beam Engine & River Lea

Up at the crack of dawn and onto the drift, gliding on top of the mirror like iridescence. I remember that feeling of being out and about before 8am, it sets the stomach into motion. I used to start the day off with coffees that lacked colour and rollies so tightly wound it hurt to inhale - made in defiance of their purpose, as if they were doing the work of quitting for you. I remember those feelings when it was clear my body wasn’t ready to be prodded into life, I felt the need to push on but every step made my innards repudiate. The intention to wade, paddle, get up stream somehow I would explain, but the sound of a Candian goose has cranked and now I’m just staring blankly, senselessly at you, I mouth ‘why are we here’.

‘This’ you declare ‘was a site of significance’ pointing at a place you’ve seen a million times, because I took you there the last time we visited. ‘Infrastructure is one of the most under-discussed values of this space’ - you gesture to the left and right.

‘Most of our fascination with history can be surmised into glamour, celebrity or hearsay. None of this exists here.’ Your gesticulation narrowly missing a local jogger. Stepping forward you encourage me to stroke the building and pronounce that ‘sites such as this demarcate progression and foretold of a future where life might be possible in less chaotic terms.’

‘This engine’ you shout ‘flung what is contained within’ - here you gesticulate towards your backside, ‘towards and outwards.’ A nearby cafe owner smiles whilst unlocking a window hatch, we exchange glances. The daylight has fully engulfed the surrounding park, the trees have made scissor-like cuts in the space above the flats. I take a seat in a small rose garden, something you agree with and join me patting my leg whilst humming a song which incites an individual to collect rejected metal. I look deep within my hands and begin a cursory inventory of my cuticles.

Whistling you’ve crouched down in the dirt and are convinced you’ve stumbled across a small footing, an entrance into a space which will enable us to realise the full potential of today’s historic unfolding, blankly you stare up at me and remark that this is the most northern tip of today’s excavation, and as such you must ensure that I’m aware of what we’ve missed - the ground peels and splinters in your hands, they grow dry and cracked. ‘If you are to understand anything then it is clear further days are required,’ you whisper into my right ear. You’re now behind me and have placed in my hand a small stick of charcoal, ‘this’ you stroke the gift in my hand ‘lies to the north and is responsible for all the destruction’.

Project credits
The film I used to capture each image was Ilford Delta Film 35mm B&W ISO 400 - purchased from Analogue Wonderland

My images were kindly developed and low-res scanned by the wonderful people at Traia Photolab