Lindsay Hayre told us about her project Thorpe Towers, and how she managed to bring the stories of the people who used to live there and incorporate these into her artwork where she primarily explores space and place.
My artwork primarily explores space and place and brings in to question topics such as, how is space occupied? And what does such occupied space reveal about us? The completed works take the form of books, photography, prints or paintings.
I produce community art works in Hull, Yorkshire that work with and reflect local residential
communities. My work focuses on individuality and indenture amongst the repetitive conformity of inhabited council environments in Hull. The completed projects aim to bring together communities and assign them a voice.
I was born in Hull in 1983 and still live and work here today with my own family.
I studied Art and Photography from A Level after leaving school and went on to complete a Lens Media Degree at Leeds University in 2009. After teaching in this subject for many years I went on to gain my MA in Fine Arts at Lincoln university in 2013.
This project developed out of many mini projects I was completing at the time surrounded ‘Space and Place’. All of my work is completed in Hull and is about council estates in some way. I am interested in everyday space and places where people stop to pause in their day. I heard about an iconic tower block being demolished and after further investigation, was interested to discover that tenants were having to move out in short notice. I contacted the council and asked to meet up with residents regarding the move. I was interested in how tenants were leaving such and important space to them, what objects they packed and left behind and how they felt about the empty space remanding. After 18months on site, helping people move home, I created this series of works on the empty viewpoints, belongings and suggestions of home left behind in each of the flats.
This work varies form my previous works as it has a much more personal feel having been created inside people’s homes. My favourite aspect of the project was the wonderful characters that I met along the way and how welcoming people were to letting me in to their homes. I gather many fascinating quotes and sketches form residents which I am still yet to use in my works somehow. Each person had a different response to the move and decorated their homes their own way, yet still confined by the tenancy agreement restraints. Unfortunately building such personal relationships with residents also revealed some heart breaking stories were social services support was often required and at times it really challenged my reasons for being there. I was always adamant that I didn’t want this project to exploit residents in any way.
I love the architecture, characters and general outlook on life up north. People are friendlier and more approachable. You only need to take a bus ride through a Northern City to engage in conversation and share stories with residents. People laugh more up North and get through the tough times by enjoying the simple times.
I was researching the concept of space and place at the time and was fascinated at the repetition of design found in council estates and particularly tower blocks. The idea evolved itself over an 18 month period whilst working with residents on the estate. The Thorpe Tower blocks were due for demolition on the Orchard Park estate in Hull. Residents had to relocate home within a short time period and some of the residents had lived there over 30 years, I had the opportunity to visit the building before residents moved out and after. I became involved in helping people move home and made many mini art projects along the way. Once all residents had left the tower blocks I had the opportunity to capture the objects and space left behind. The repetition in architecture and viewpoints became the theme of the images and the small but poignant changes residents had made to make each space their home. The aim of the project was to create or capture an aspect of the Tower blocks that the residents could relate to, take with them and feel a part of. The images were exhibited on the estate when finished and the residents involved were given a small book of the works to keep.
The main challenges for this project was gaining people’s trust to let me in their homes and gain access to the build before demolition. Gaining resident’s trust was a slow process of coffee mornings, assisting moves and sketching residents to create opportunities for conversation and make residents become familiar with my presence. After months of working with the council they did eventually allow me access to areas I needed to assist in the project.
I don’t really decide what my projects will convey when creating them. I just like a project to evolve through community work and become what it needs to be to reflect the environment in which it was created.
I am currently working on a project that explores and captures places in which people stop and pause through out the city. This could be benches, bus stops, street corners etc… I am interested in people’s viewpoints when in these spaces, The planning and placement of these structures and whether these viewpoints are familiar to people when put In a juxtaposition from its original location. So far this has been a series of photographs and sketches in many locations. I am hoping to also talk to residents about such spaces and spend this year exploring different areas of the city to build a large body of images to help this project begin to evolve further.
Artist name: Lindsay Hayre
Title: Thorpe Towers