Tristan Hazell lives and works in the shadow of the Westway on Portobello Road. What follows is a collection of observations, reviews, social comment, fiction, poetry, art criticism and more. Much of it is fiction and some of it will offend someone somewhere, I hope.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Orphans under the Westway.




















Over 50 years ago, in the dark but more enlightened times the powers that be decided that a Motorway link should be pushed into West London in order to better serve the twin gods of Mammon and Motorcar. A whole community was disrupted and displaced by the event without any real care or consideration for that community.

The residents (mostly impoverished and a great number of them immigrants living in slum streets that were unceremoniously bulldozed to make way for the road that didn't even have the courtesy to run at ground level but arrogantly flying overhead) were rehoused without any real thought for community bonds or spirit. Post War planners and Architects were still fooling around with Brutalism, balcony high rise building and the social experiments of Bauhaus and Le Corbusier which have all proved to occupy a rather shabby cul-de-sac in the history of social housing.

The unlucky ones got to be rehoused in poorly considered estates, the even unluckier got to be herded into the abominable Trellick Tower and therefore able to look down on the Westway worm that had eviscerated their community.

But under the belly of that worm something stirred.

'Orphans' documents some of that stirring.

Under the Westway back then kids started occupying the spaces, building their utopian fantasies within the dystopian environment: discarded building materials became the wherewithal for adventure. Times were freer then, sure some kids got hurt but not as many as now where kids carry knives and will stab one another at the mention of a wrong post-code within nanny England's sterile but 'safe' environment.

Once the powers that be saw that there was potential use for the spaces they were taken away from the community under the premise that they would be developed for the benefit of said community. This is of course nonsense.

Apart from a few bays the entire area has been developed for commercial reasons with little thought for what the community really wants or needs.

'Orphans' occupies one of those few remaining bays, alongside the pop-up cinema and a splendidly tatty bar and music venue.

'Orphans' is an Art Installation by Steve Mepsted that plasters the innards of the Westway with enlarged images of how it used to be before the powers that be saw it as a means to profit.

Irony abounds at  'Orphans'.  Next to a enormous photograph of 60's children playing in a self built construct under the west way a bunch of 21st century kids have to make do with a vacant stage in front of images of 60's kids because nanny Britain deems nothing safe for our children and therefore our children have nothing safe to play with except the guns and knives of deprivation that we now give them.

Westway Trust is somehow sponsoring this. Westway Trust should be thinking long and hard about how it can ensure that the spaces under the flyover can remain of use to the community and benefit the people who need it most.

Westway Trust is one of those quasi-charitable organisations who like to be seen to be doing the right thing while they sell the birthright of the people they claim to represent to the highest bidder.

I spoke to Steve today. I said: I'm not going to review your show, I'll leave that to the professionals but I surely will moan about Westway Trust and RBKC and their desire to eradicate the indigenous population in favour of wealthy incomers.

'Orphans' is under the Westway for the foreseeable future, go and have a look.

And while you are there, grab someone from Westway Trust and ask:

Ask why the pop up cinema doesn't have proper funding, ask why all three bays will probably go to a supermarket, ask why Those 3 bays should not remain in perpetuity the domain of the community that the Westway Trust is supposed to serve.

Oops. I forgot. The Westway Trust only serves itself.













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