Sunday, 16 September 2012

Walking in a ghost town

The Kingsland Estate is coming down. Slowly, but surely, the old buildings are being closed up, the residents moved to other accommodation and the windows secured with garish orange metal shutters.

That process has been going on for several years, but within the last two, the first blocks on the estate were torn down and now have almost-complete new blocks in their place.

Some 400 homes are being replaced by more than 700, together with shops, a community centre and play areas. Previous residents with secure tenancies will be able to return.

The estate was first opened in 1952 – even though much of looks older. It has existed for as long as Elizabeth has been queen.

Notorious at one time and so shabby that it was not considered possible to renovate it – some blocks along the same stretch of Whiston Road have been renovated in recent years.

A few people still live there.

Egyptian-born artist Nazir Tanbouli has lived on the estate since 2007 and has his studio there.

As the process of renewal has been taking place, he decided to take his art into the increasing derelict landscape.

To wander around (it’s just down the road from where I live) is to enter a strange and eerie world.

The place has the air of a ghost town, taken over now by a few pigeons and Tanbouli’s monsters – some of his pieces have something of Picasso’s Guernica about them.

Here are a few pictures recording the place as it is now – but not for long.

They were taken on the afternoon that the Olympic torch came through Hackney – passing just 200m away from these fantastical images, which itself seemed a rather surreal juxtaposition.

The photographs are an attempt not just to capture what Tanbouli has done, but also other aspects of the almost-gone estate.

Clicking on a picture will allow you to see a larger version of it.

To find out more about Tanbouli's pro, click here.

All photographs copyright.

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