Recipient of the Alpha60 Prize.
NO ONE TOLD ME I WAS LIVING IN A BRUTALIST NIGHTMARE
My installation No One Told Me I was Living in a Brutalist Nightmare seeks to question the impact of growing up in a new town in 1970s Scotland. Cumbernauld, known as a ‘concrete jungle’ was where I spent my childhood surrounded by a landscape of brutalist architecture, which became my playground. Although this type of architectural estate was perceived as socially progressive in its time, and was designed to create better living conditions, brutalist architecture can also evoke connotations of stark concrete buildings, and depressed housing projects along with a general sense of urban decline.
My intention in this project is to present an alternate view of this.
Memories of my early childhood environment are of concrete mounds interspersed with grassy knolls, and nooks and crannies made for ‘kick the can’; a double nougat ice cream on a Friday night; ‘chap the door and run away’; the wooden tops playground and running along the ‘pipey’. Until later in life, I was entirely unaware of any sense of social misfortune that others may have perceived for those of us living in Cumbernauld. In this project I have focused on post-war brutalist architecture as a research topic, forming a methodology that examines harmonious associations and relationships with this environment.
The slab-built ceramic sculptures in my project embrace the geometry and straight lines of brutalism, whilst the pastel colours and spheres add a playful element, depicting the innocence of a child who hasn’t been affected by preconceived ideas and social opinions. The various sculptures in this project come together to form a mini-brutalist city, with many elements being interchangeable—a miniature world of delight. The puzzle-like structures are connected to the innocent curiosity of a child, the creative imagination and how creativity formed through play, re-thinking and re-forming can build human resilience.