“…the suburbs are self-medicating, the suburbs are hallucinating, England is hallucinating…”
In 2011 it was the suburbs that saw the most dramatic displays of collective violence. In Croydon, Edmonton, Catford, Streatham, the barriers broke down and the suburbs suddenly became porous, territorial markers melted and the streets became the site of collective engagement with the spectacle of consumerism, the anger directed towards pawnbrokers, retail parks and high street stores.
A reversal has taken place; the suburb is the new inner city. The situation is fractured and complicated but, after a year spent walking around the outer reaches of South-West London, artist Laura Oldfield Ford argues the suburbs emerge as two distinct categories: Zones of Refuge where bankers, frazzled with siphoning public money, relax and dream of heritage England, of Tolkein, of homes and gardens; and Zones of Sacrifice, the areas allowed to decay amidst sites of gentrification, held captive on all sides by the ghoulish horror of Cath Kidston and cup-cake baking.
“What happens when you’re forced to spend hours immersed in stultifying work; split-shifts at McDonalds in a traffic island near Heathrow, living in a Travelodge in Sunbury working on the construction of some luxury development, or stuck in a call-centre in Croydon hassling people about loan repayments. You might seek solace in marginal political ideologies, the EDL, Al-Muhajiroun, the comfort and camaraderie of faith, with the thrill of violence to puncture the boredom. But mostly you self-medicate.”
Laura Oldfield Ford (b.1973 Halifax, West Yorkshire) is a London based artist and writer. Her work is concerned with issues surrounding contested space, landscape, architecture and memory, reworking the ‘dérive’ or drift as a subjective process of mapping territory along the lines of social antagonism. Awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship in 2013, she has spent the last year walking through the outer-edges of South West London. Recent exhibitions include Ruin Lust Tate Britain (2014), Recording Britain V&A (2012) and Anarchy Unmasked British Library (2014). She is the author of Savage Messiah (Verso, 2011).
Visit our Online Works section to hear Pray for Love (2014) an audio-work forming part of the exhibition.
To accompany her exhibition Laura Oldfield Ford has produced the very first of our Stanley Picker Gallery Editions specially created to directly support our programme of activities and the artists and designers we work with. This colour lithograph on Saunders Waterford paper entitled Abiding by Rituals (signed-edition of 50 copies) is available exclusively for sale from the venue from 16 October 2014, priced £145 + VAT. See full image above and contact the Gallery to receive further details.
Launch Event: Wed 8 Oct 6-8.30pm / All Welcome
Suburban Drift: Wed 12 Nov 2-5pm (weather permitting)
Join Laura Oldfield Ford on a walking tour of the local suburbs / Free Event / Booking Essential
Stanley Picker Gallery Talk with Laura Oldfield Ford: Wed 12 Nov 7pm / Drinks 6pm / All Welcome
Click here to read Sean Ashton’s review of Seroxat, Smirnoff, THC in Art Review.
Click here to read i-D magazine’s interview with Laura Oldfield Ford, October 2014.
Click here to read the Icon Magazine review, November 2014.
Landing page image: Laura Oldfield Ford Travelodge acrylic, oil and chalk on canvas (2014) Courtesy the Artist