Tag Archives: James Lander

Balfron Tower: archiving fragments

The conversations recorded in the making of ‘Walking Between Streets in the Sky’ led to shared enthusiasm between several of the book’s recipients for marking Balfron Tower’s half-century milestone in 2018. The outcome is a timely opportunity to exhibit a six-year archiving project. James’s practice-led research can be viewed at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives in the context of Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival the ‘London Festival of Architecture’ throughout June.

installation view detail

‘Balfron Tower: archiving fragments’ is a methodology as much as an exhibition. A selection of sources are presented in familiar museum cases, as well as above and beyond the traditional remit of the archive: as a wall banner. They are navigable using a free publication which includes a critical essay from writer and curator Owen Hopkins, alongside a commentary by James. Designed by recent LCC graduate Bec Worth, the publication is intended for use onsite and beyond, for as long as it may take. While the exhibition draws on the past, it is very much forward looking. James is concerned with making Balfron Tower, in whatever shape or form, accessible to the children of tomorrow, those who may not be able to afford to live there as he did for 4 years. For those new to the subject, these fragments of an artist’s unofficial archive, set amongst historical materials from the local archives and from further afield, extend the disciplines across which Balfron Tower is discussed, by addressing circles wider than those limited by any specialism.

For the initiated, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see what went on inside the walls of a housing complex, from an artist’s point of view. Aimed at a diverse local community as well as visitors from beyond Tower Hamlets, the exhibition is self funded by James and with a small award from the Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon Student Support Fund. The exhibition hours will extend until 8pm on Thursday 21st June, with a conversation between Owen Hopkins, James and others from 6.30-7.30pm.

wall banner detail

Walking Between Streets in the Sky

In 2017, Tamara Stoll and James Lander developed their shared interests in social housing in London under threat of redevelopment and the practice of walking and conversation, into a visual essay. The housing in question, Boundary Estate, Ashington House, Ocean Estate, Balfron Tower and Robin Hood Gardens is located in Tower Hamlets, East London. Tamara and James invited collaborators to five conversation-led walks between two estates at a time: Ken Worpole, Lisa Mckenzie, Nayia Yiakoumaki, Geraldine Dening, Simon Elmer and Catherine Croft. Input was sought from architecture to activism, from anthropology to art. The aim was to make connections between different experiences, perspectives and areas of expertise.

Titled ‘Walking Between Streets in the Sky’, the book maps each estate through selections from conversation transcripts accompanied by footnotes. Limited to an edition of 50 copies, each book lists the 50 recipients who were chosen for a connection between where they live or work and the content of the conversations. The Architects for Social Housing (ASH), co-founded by Dening and Elmer, included the book in their discursive week long residency at the ICA, London in Summer 2017. Walking Between Streets in the Sky is accessible at libraries in Tower Hamlets, at UAL libraries and as a pdf here.

Book design is by Bec Worth, an Australian designer with an interest in the social implications, and digressive possibilities, of walking. Bec is a participant of the MA Graphic Media Design course at London College of Communication (LCC). Tamara, an LCC alumnus, is a post-graduate photography student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Leipzig, Germany. James is a PhD candidate at Chelsea College of Arts, London. Printing was supported by the Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon MPhil/PhD Student Initiative Fund.


Action Space Inflatable

On 14 and 15 October CCW Graduate School and Chelsea College of Arts will be hosting Action Space Inflatable. The inflatable is a re-versioning of pneumatic structures built by Action Space in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Over two days members from Action Space, Inter-Action and Artist Placement Group (APG) among others, will explore the relevance of community arts programmes of the ‘70s and ‘80s to contemporary artistic practices. Through workshops, performance, a walking tour, film screenings and discussion, this event will open up questions about art as a democratic tool, educational medium and instigator of social change. The Action Space Inflatable structure has been specially commissioned as part of an experimental film project by filmmaker, Huw Wahl. This two-day event marks the first stage of the UK tour of the inflatable and is presented by CCW Graduate School as part of Chelsea College of Arts’ celebration of ten years of creative activity at Millbank.

On Wednesday 14 October, founding member of Action Space, Ken Turner, will deliver a performative lecture; CCW Research Fellow Mo Throp invites you to participate in the Inter-Action Trust Games Method session, as well as a programme of archival footage from Action Space, Inter-Action Trust and Artist Placement Group (APG) projects will be screened inside the inflatable. The day will close with a panel discussion on Socially engaged practices of the 1970s and their relevance today, chaired by Marsha Bradfield and including Joshua Y’Barbo, James Lander, Barbara Steveni, Mo Throp and Ken Turner.

On Thursday 15 October artist Barbara Steveni, of APG, and Jo Melvin invite you on their Walking Tour from Manresa Road  – site of the original Chelsea School of Art – towards the current Millbank venue. The day concludes with a conversation between Barbara and Brian Chalkley focusing on APG’s ‘Not Knowing’ in relation to Chalkley’s pedagogical methods for teaching on the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Arts. The conversation will be facilitated by Jo Melvin.

Mo Throp spent five years in the 1970’s as a live-work member of Inter-Action, a community arts organisation which became one of the UK’s best known and most influential cultural and social enterprises. Its projects included the Almost Free Theatre in the West End (notable seasons and events included London’s first Black Power, Gay and Women’s theatre seasons), the Dogg’s Troupe – a street theatre group, the Fun Art Bus, the Media Van, a city farm, a publishing unit and one of London’s first Free Schools. ‘My time with this organisation has certainly influenced my pedagogical approach as a teacher of Fine Art students and my relation to art practice and my work with the Subjectivity & Feminisms Research group at Chelsea.

Recently, I came into contact with Huw Wahl who has been researching another such organisation from this period: Action Space. He has re-built a prototype of one of their huge inflatables and proposed to bring it to Chelsea, inviting us to organise a programme of events around the Community Arts movement of the late 1960s. This is therefore a great opportunity to ask how such projects resonate now in relation to the social turn in contemporary practice. Our programme of events addresses the current resurgence of interest in socially engaged artistic practices and hopes to address the challenge to conventional modes of artistic production and consumption under late capitalism.’

James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous selected for Bow Open 2015

Following the recent screening of videos from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), part of The Brutalist Playground, James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous had their work selected for the STRUCTURE TEXTURE FUTURE exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery in London. The exhibition was selected and curated by Rosamond Murdoch, Nunnery Gallery Director and Dr. Shahidha Bari, writer, academic and critic, based in London. Bari is lecturer in Romanticism at Queen Mary University of London. James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous were selected alongside 14 others out of 500 Bow Artists.

The works selected gather around the interlocked themes of ruin and repair, as might be understood in the terms of the industrial and the natural. In many ways, this grounds the collection in its home in East London, a part of the city that is a heartland for creativity and making, but which is also constantly building and displacing.

The work included two copies of TimeOut magazine from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives. The story written on Balfron Tower provoked responses on the TimeOut website forum and on the Balfron Tower Facebook group. These conversations are archived. A page from TimeOut was reproduced in the catalogue for the exhibition and two copies of the catalogue were reabsorbed into the Archives. The Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives can be understood as a reciprocal conduit. One in which the materials gathered in the Archives which are up for debate and the materials these debates generate, such as the Time Out magazine and online comments, produce and are produced by the Archives, of which this announcement forms part. STRUCTURE TEXTURE FUTURE was on from 20 June to 5 July 2015, and the catalogue is available online.

Commissioned by the London County Council and known during development as Rowlett Street Phase 1, Balfron Tower was designed by Ernö Goldfinger as social housing. Built in 1968 and listed Grade II in 1996, Balfron Tower is described by English Heritage as having ‘a distinctive profile that sets it apart from other tall blocks. More importantly, it proved that such blocks could be well planned and beautifully finished, revealing Goldfinger as a master in the production of finely textured and long-lasting concrete masses.’ Ownership was subsequently transferred from Tower Hamlets Council to Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (Poplar HARCA) who have managed the building since 2007. It was announced by ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman on April Fools’ Day (2015) that ‘Poplar Harca were unable to afford the cost of refurbishing Balfron Tower without selling it on.’[1] Property developers Londonewcastle are lined up to sell all 146 flats on the private market in the near future.

In response to the planned refurbishment, which has been looming over Balfron Tower for the past five years, James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous established the BALFRON TOWER/Rowlett Street Archives in 2012. These Archives are made up of everything and nothing to do with their subject. From its historical beginnings as Rowlett Street, to the widely documented process of regeneration. From the artistic and cultural activities of recent years, to the overlooked traces and ephemera captured in common areas such as the north and south stairwells. The Archives include documentation, photographs, audio/video recordings and original features e.g. corridor tiles, fittings and fixtures. In amongst the Archives are private documents, for which permission to copy, reproduce or publish has been refused.

[1] Rahman, L. (2015) Statement on Balfron Tower. [Online] 1 April 2015. Available at: http://lutfurrahman.com/statement-balfron-tower/ [Accessed: 1 April 2015] Mayor at time of announcement subsequently removed from office due to electoral fraud.

The Brutalist Playground

Balfron Tower in Poplar, commissioned by the London County Council and known during development as Rowlett Street Phase 1, was designed by Ernö Goldfinger as social housing. Built in 1968 and listed Grade II in 1996, ownership was subsequently transferred from Tower Hamlets Council to the Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (Poplar HARCA) who have managed the building since 2007. It was announced by Mayor Lutfur Rahman on April Fool’s Day (2015) that ‘Poplar Harca were unable to afford the cost of refurbishing Balfron Tower without selling it on.'[1]

Following on from a recent archival display at the Chelsea Café Project, managed by Sinéad Bligh, and the moving image screening during the Research Hub programme at The Cookhouse Gallery, organized by first year CCW research students, the BALFRON TOWER/Rowlett Street Archives will be included in a forthcoming evening event at RIBA on 9th June 2015 to launch The Brutalist Playground. RIBA, with Assemble and artist Simon Terrill, are hosting an evening of free talks, films, tours and more exploring the links between post-war architecture and urban play.

Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play, The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Assemble and artist Simon Terrill exploring post-war design for play. Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery at RIBA, it encourages visitors to look at the materiality and visual language of now lost Brutalist landscapes in new ways through an immersive and conceptual landscape.

In the run up to the planned refurbishment of Balfron Tower, the installation at RIBA will offer a timely opportunity to consider this internationally acknowledged building from a different perspective.

The BALFRON TOWER/Rowlett Street Archives were established by CCW PhD student James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous. As property guardians or artists in work/live residence at Balfron Tower, they have been privileged to its inner workings over three years. Their research is distinguished by its forensic nature, encompassing everything and nothing. From its historical beginnings as Rowlett Street, to the widely documented process of regeneration. From the internationally profiled artistic and cultural activities of recent years, to the overlooked traces and ephemera captured in common areas such as the north and south stairwells. Their research uses non-identical twin archives to investigate William Burroughs’ claim ‘Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted.'[2] In collaboration with art and intellectual property lawyers, they will consider the legal implications of these archives and their place within the discourse of architectural modernism in Britain. The aim of their research is the construction of unofficial storeys, in order to repeat the unrepeatable. They will determine who has the legal right to use the material and intellectual property associated with the archives and in which context. The aim of their research is the construction of unofficial storeys, in order to repeat the unrepeatable.

[1] Rahman, L. (2015) Statement on Balfron Tower. [Online] 1 April 2015. Available at: http://lutfurrahman.com/statement-balfron-tower/ [Accessed: 1 April 2015] Mayor at time of announcement subsequently removed from office due to electoral fraud.

[2]  Burroughs, W. (2010) Cities of the red night. London: Penguin.

Image: Children’s playground, Pepys Estate, Deptford, London, 1970s

The Research Hub and The Hydra

This year’s CCW first year research students exhibition is The Research Hub, a collective that will be held at the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea from 23-27 March.  There will be a series of events that engages with the multiple facets and diversities that range between the broad subject matters and modes of research as well as The Hydra publication. The gallery will be divided into four rooms; the Office, the practice presentation room, the function room and The Hydra display.

The cohort has taken inspiration from the original Hydra Magazine published in 1917. The original publication is from the Craiglockhart War Hospital, written by recovering soldiers to keep other patients and the community informed about the happenings around Craiglockhart.

Map by the first year cohort

Map by the first year cohort

In the true nature of research, there will be a draft publication of our version of The Hydra as a printed programme. The programme itself is a work in progress that will be added to and evolve during the week; it will reflect the events and contributions from speakers and other participants. This will be published after the event as the Cohort Hydra, Research Hub documentation.

The Office will be occupied by one or more current research students working on their research in situ, whatever form that may take- reading, writing, drawing, etc.

The Practice Presentation Room will host experimental work. An event will happen on Tuesday 24 March for which research students have been invited to give short, informal presentations on their work. Sharing the work is part of the research process, an evolution in itself, to ‘practice’ talking about complex ideas that often take the form of art work, film or theory. This opportunity is to build the research community within UAL and to give a platform for people to exchange and discover.

The Function Room will host different, led discussion and guest speakers. We hope to create an atmosphere conducive to informal social events that allows conversation to happen.

The Hydra itself is known as a mythical beast that had multiple heads. When one head was chopped off another would grow in it’s place. As a group we decided the best way to reflect our research community was to embrace the research process in common themes that effect our individual practices and the chaotic dynamic that happens while investigating a subject, concept or proposed theory. Much like a beast, uncertainty, surprising outcomes, risk and possible failure daunt the unbeaten path of such an undertaking as research. The students organising The Research Hub are Fangyu Cheng, Denise Clarke, Alice Evans, Robert Gadie, Penny Georgiou, Jennifer Murray, Stephanie Spindler, Maria Theodoraki and James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous.


Practice Presentation collage by Stephanie Spindler


The full programme of events is as follows:

-Monday 23rdopen from 4pm onwards: Opening night drinks reception; Fangyu Cheng and Alice Evans will be giving a practice presentation called ‘Disobedient Objects’; Stephanie Spindler will also be presenting some new work; and the Office of Public Ritual will be performing a ritual.

-Tuesday 24th2 til 5pm: A selection of PhD students will be giving informal practice presentations, and leading discussion;

5pm onwards: UAL Senior Lecturer Dave Beech will be leading a talk.

Drinks reception following talk.

-Wednesday 25th6 til 8pm: James Lander will be presenting: SHOWREAL: moving images from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives. This event will be hosted in the Lecture Theatre.

-Thursday 26th11 til 1pm: Dr. Stephen Wilson and the 1st year CCW PhD students will be chairing a discussion leading on from the series of lectures held at the ICA titled ‘Where Theory Belongs’;

3pm onwards: the Riotous Cities group J. Y’Barbo, L. Locke, K. Hye Lee, F. Peschier, M. Namazi, will be hosting a discussion about their Riotous Cities project, and their upcoming Art Riot project.

Drinks reception following discussion.

-Friday 27thOffice room and HYDRA room will be open.


Top image: Hydra doodle by Robert Gadie

Open Studios at Balfron Tower

The Open Studios at Balfron Tower event, organised by Bow Arts as part of Balfron Season, takes place across the weekend of 20-21 September, from 11am-6pm, to coincide with London Open House weekend. Balfron Season is a unique programme of events organised by Bow Arts, situated in and around the Grade II listed Balfron Tower.

Connected by a shared interest in the history and legacy of Balfron Tower, Alan McFetridge, Sinéad Bligh, and CCW PhD student James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous present Flat 15 and Flat 12 of Ernö Goldfinger’s iconic high rise building. It is within this unique situation and space that the artists consider the importance of who has inhabited the building, who is present in the spaces now, and who will utilise this environment in the future. Through a combined presentation, the artists prompt an open discussion of the social, political, economic and personal im­plications of displacement and presence within this particular site and community. Inhabiting two vacated flats that, though mirrored, imply visibly different histories, their interventions open up a space for interaction, discussion and consideration located at the heart of Balfron Tower itself.

Completed in 1967 in Poplar, East London, the 26 storey Modernist structure of Balfron Tower consists of 136 flats and 10 maisonettes designated for habitation by social housing tenants. After being granted Grade II listing in March 1996, ownership was transferred from Tower Hamlets Council to Poplar HARCA Housing Association in 2007. At the start of the transfer process, the building was designated for extensive refurbishment, indicating the beginning of the gradual rehous­ing of the community. In the intervening years Bow Arts Trust has provided work/live spaces for artists at Balfron Tower and managed education, environmental and cultural work in the local community. In 2014 the few remaining residents, and the temporary community of artists and property guardians who have inhabited the Balfron Tower over the past 4 four years, will depart in order to make way for the imminent refurbishment of this iconic building.

Since completing the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea in 2012, James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous have undertaken a self-initiated work/live residency at Balfron Tower in London. Occupying two successive flats as property guardians, James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous have spent the last two years amassing a living archive. At the invitation of Bow Arts Trust and in response to The Sensation of Space1 essays published by Ernö Goldfinger, architect of Balfron Tower, Alan McFetridge, Harriet Cooper, Sinead Bligh, James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous are co-hosting this Open Studios event. This month two comparative selections from the archive are distributed simultaneously from Flat 15 and 12 as free newspapers. The act of publishing what would otherwise remain hidden offers a much needed critique of life as a property guardian in London. Intended to spark debate, this circulation seeks to challenge current legislation and ultimately to affect change in the world. 2014 also witnessed the donation of all the work James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous produced, as well as acquired from other artists over the previous fifteen years. The invisible archive, to which the donation refers, in tandem with the living archive, form the basis for Lander’s practice-based PhD. His current research is motivated by and seeks to reformulate the dynamic between altruism, psychological egoism and the hintergedanke ‘ulterior motive.’2

James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous 2014-2018 PhD Fine Art practice-based candidates Chelsea College of Arts University of the Arts London

Is it 28 pages with a memory / fragment on each page?
James Lander and those who wish to remain anonymous
PhD Fine Art practice-based candidates
Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon College of Arts
University of the Arts London

Work by Harriet Cooper

Alan McFetridge
Haymaker (2014)
Inkjet media on self adhesive polypropelene
244 x 540.6 cm

Work by Sinéad Bligh

Sinéad Bligh
Epistemological Maquette (2014)
Toilet bowl, toilet seat, sound piece on MP3 player and headphones; duration 06:59 min looped

1Goldfinger, E. (1941) The Sensation of Space. The Architectural Review, Nov, pp.129-131.

2 Weiss, E. (1995) Pons-Kompaktwörterbuch Englisch – Deutsch. Stuttgart: Klett Verlag für Wissen und Bildung. p.214