Since the 1940s, government and councils treated housing as a problem that needed to be fixed quickly, rather than viewing it as a chance to create an inspired foundation within a healthy and equal society. In such an era of challenge, the rise of the local authority housing, or council estate, seemed to be the answer to their problems. Over time, however, most were to reveal the consequences of such hurried and ill-conceived planning. Throughout Britain, council estates are often portrayed as places to be feared, or the very source of social ills - from gang culture, high unemployment, and relentless petty stupidity to anti-social behavior. British painter Anthony McCorry proposes that such stigma should be reassessed; and that with a deeper appreciation of the complexity of life and conditions, living on council estates can be rewarding, rather than miserable.
Things as they ought to be
Anthony McCorry was born in Birmingham in 1963, where he spent his childhood in the Chelmsley Wood area of Birmingham, at the time the largest area of social housing in Europe. After graduating from the University of Sunderland with a BA (Hons.) in Fine Art, and completing an MA Fine Art at Coventry University, McCorry spent many years focusing his work on built environments and exploring the theme of social housing through painting. During excursions made to other British towns in the 1980s as a football supporter, McCorry confronted a number of unsettling landscapes, which reinforced his unique observations and recurring memories of living in Chelmsley Wood. In his work, shut-down pubs, run-down structures and uncanny vistas, all display a disquieting quality of decay and alienation.
In 2001, McCorry received a Creative Ambition Award from West Midland Arts and the encouragement resulted in his biggest and most ambiguous project yet - “British Estates.” This involved documenting specific areas of social housing in and around major British cities. The project has continued to develop, as has his style and approach. During his 6 months artist residency at EXHIBIT, McCorry has extended his artistic manifesto to challenge long-held preconceptions. Influenced by the unique environment and the supportive community, the dream-like quality of the new series of work will expose the artist’s own emotional response to a reality he once ceased to believe in.
“Things as they ought to be” will display 5 completed paintings and 1 in-progress installation with images captured by the residents and McCorry together. During his residency at EXHIBIT, McCorry maintained an on-going interest in the Golden Lane Community Club, and had continuing dialogue with the participating residents. It is his hope that by engaging as many residents as possible to collaborate in his process, their emotional viewpoint will be brought closer to the observer.
What: Anthony McCorry - Things as they ought to be
Where: EXHIBIT at Golden Lane Estate, 20 Goswell Rd, London EC1M 7AA
When: Fri 22 Jan – Fri 19 Feb 2010, Mon by appt, Tue-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm
Associated Events: Preview Thu 21 Jan 2010, 6.30-8.30pm
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