It’s already Autumn. I spent my much of the summer getting somewhat fixated on a strange little house between the reservoirs in Stoke Newington.
Next to the water and a little way from other houses, it has this almost mythic quality, of being out-of-place, of living a life apart from the rest of the city.
This ordinary-looking house was originally built to service the reservoirs, and was once known as The Waterman’s House. It was later extended (unsympathetically, according to Hackney’s Local List), following the 1980s preference for DIY Victoriana.
The neighbouring Woodberry Down Estate was a post-war utopia of social housing, schools and public facilities (my mum used to work at the health centre). By the 1990s it had become a wilderness of used needles and rats. The good intentions of the 2006 masterplan – which I know intimately – have since been maligned – part of London’s turbid housing crisis. A 3 bed flat is on sale for £945K.
I first read about the house in this interview in the Quietus magazine. The band Real Lies lived there and are similarly obsessed by it. For them, in some ways, it’s the last house in London. I’ve come to see it as embodying lots of converging stories – about property, regeneration, the mythic idea of inspiration (still worshipped today), topophilia (strong feelings towards a specific place), the disappearance of a certain type of London.
I started to make these glass models of the house. I suppose they are like crystal elegies, for memorialising this shrine like lipstick traces of poetic oblivion. Or perhaps like cut-glass perfume phials trying to capture an essence before it disappears. Or maybe even museum vitrines to preserve against change.
The first two sculptures I’ve made are showing in exhibitions this autumn: