The project which initiated the Greylands
series of works on contentious pieces of land, is called
KIT Homes. Commissioned by Epilogue (Mike Stanley)
in 1997, the context of the show involves the demolishing
of a working class community symbol of ‘The Saints
Fisher and More School’. The construction of the school
in Widnes, UK in 1952 had been paid for over many years
by the local community who gave a shilling a week out of
their paypackets to subsidize the building. In 1997 a housing
developer, through fair means or foul, persuades local government
that it would be in the community’s best interest
to have the school demolished to make way for a more middle-class
housing estate of 3 bedroom houses.
KIT along with 7 other artists is invited
to construct an installation within the school building.
There are no limits as to what can be done structurally
as long as it’s safe for the public to view the work.
The lack of opportunity for the surrounding community to
ask local government questions or maybe more pertinently
to get honest answers is a major incentive in the development
of KIT Homes.
For a 3-month period before the exhibition,
KIT work with 10 children who attend the school. A simple
question is asked of them. “What would your dream
house look like if you were given the chance to build on
the land left vacant after the school has been knocked down?”
The children were asked to think about it for a couple of
weeks after which time they worked on developing architectural
blueprints for their projected houses. The designs are handed
to KIT and the process of marking the plans out real size
on the football pitches around the school begin.
Using a football pitch marker, which has a
chalk and lime mixture in it, KIT spend a 3-week period,
between bouts of rain and sitting in cars waiting for it
to stop, marking out the plans. A 3–inch line mimics
the lines that should have been on the grass had the process
not been stopped months before because of the imminent demolition
of the school. Since football, along with any other sports,
is about the attack and defense of space, the school playing
fields are selected as the place to mark the plans out.
The lines demarcating the territory of the pitch are used
as the language reflecting the relative attack by the housing
developer on the community’s symbol – the school.
A small classroom on the second floor of the
school is refurbished to look like a working office. A table
with a computer and a phone has a secretary working behind
it, giving visitors information about the project. Aerial
photographs of the playing fields with the architectural
plans marked on them are taken from a small plane. They
are then printed as 24x36 inch colour photographs and adorn
the walls of the office. Booklets explaining the process
and rationale behind the work are made available. For each
housing plan a one-sheet press release is produced, giving
the name of the designer, house size and layout, incentives
and interests behind each design.
After visits to the encroaching housing developer’s
showroom / office nearby, many strategies are borrowed and
applied. Within the estate to be built, there are 10 different
types of house one can buy. Each house is named after an
English literary figure such as ‘Dickens’. For
the marked up KIT Homes estate, the naming strategy
is mimicked and each house is named after an international
football stadium to re-reference the context of the football
fields. Postcards of the aerial photographs are produced
and handed around the community in Widnes. When they are
older, the children who participated can say, “I remember
this when it was all fields”, and postcard in hand,
they will have a documented version of what would have been
built on those fields, had they been given a chance to determine
the future of the landscape around them.
exhibits at the following site –
1997 The Saints Fisher and
More School / Epilogue (Widnes, England)