Bibliology, Exhibit at Golden Lane Estates

Raised in a small Australian town with no building over five stories, I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of the British estate, and the way these impossibly tall, imposing buildings loom above the houses next door.  I’m unnaturally drawn to brutal modern architecture – making up for a childhood of waterfalls, rainforests and dusty camping trips perhaps – and whilst I know that life in these tower blocks can be alienating and dangerous, living in such close proximity to others can conversely inspire a sense of camaraderie.

Such is the case in the Golden Lane Estates adjacent to my favourite Brutalist piece of architecture: the Barbican.  Being located in prime part of East London, next door to one of London’s most famous arts venues, some of the 557 flats were statistically likely to be occupied by a large number of creative types. 

Two such residents have tapped into the creative and communal spirit of the estate to establish ‘Exhibit’, a small art and design space that “aims to provoke awareness to design heritage of social housing with special focus on its ageing communities”.   It’s located at the foot of the estate, next door to a Barber whose furniture seems untouched since the estate was completed in the 1960s.

I ventured there this weekend for a Bookcrossing event at the current ‘Bibliography’ exhibition.  Photographer Kathryn Faulkner has been welcomed into the homes of the Golden Lane Estate residents to capture them reading in their natural habitat; lying on beds, relaxing in armchairs, sitting at tables. 

I arrived with my own battered copy of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, had it stamped and recorded online, and was then invited into the estate to set it free.   After indulging in a voyeuristic peek into people’s lives through Faulkner’s pics, I was emboldened to take a few cheeky peeks of my own as I passed by!  And although I didn’t see anyone reading, they may soon find a copy of Black Swan Green on a window ledge, and curl up in bed to lose themselves in someone else’s story.

*I’ll be tracking the progress of my book here.  Join the bookcrossing movement for free and set your own books loose on the world.

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