• The role of drawing in the regeneration of urban spaces

      Read, Howard; University of Wolverhampton (Intellect Books, 2017-11-01)
      The aim of my practice is to witness and record the contested regeneration process taking place at the Elephant and Castle, specifically the site of the former Heygate social housing estate. The official representations of urban transformation are visually packaged to show perfect visions of the future--my drawing is used as a method of critical analysis and to challenge these representations. Working in sketchbooks onsite and in the studio the drawings create a timeline of the destruction and rupture taking place in the urban landscape, critically engaging with the regeneration process and what it means. My practice-led Ph.D. research is about documenting the changing nature of Elephant and Castle in southeast London. I draw on location, compiling notational sketches and observations using a soft 6b pencil in an A6 sketchbook. I then use this information to create much larger studio-based drawings, some of which are collages, using charcoal and graphite powder. The materials are layered to incorporate elements of specific urban history. My theoretical methodology engages with Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological notion of embodiment. Many aspects of urban regeneration have been overlooked. My intention has been to draw these spaces and critically analyse urban regeneration through my peripatetic, embodied practice. My primary case study is the contested regeneration of Elephant and Castle and the disappearance of public land and the loss of social housing. The act and action of my drawing is a means of experiencing and embodying the post-war historical legacy of the site. I made the decision not to engage with the official developers as it felt like an act of complicity with the privatization of the land. I sought out aerial viewpoints and locations at ground level that would allow me to view visually what was taking place.