Access Denied at Open Wall exhibition

From 26-28 February 2014, my series of paintings titled Access Denied was featured in the Open Wall exhibition at Façade, a pop-up gallery housed in a disused bank in the heart of London’s financial district. The show was curated by Blair Zaye in association with Moderna Art and West Creative. Open Wall attracted hundreds of visitors on its opening night alone.

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These works explore the relationship between homelessness and disused properties in East London, many of which are former public buildings with a grandiose exterior and enviable architecture. The paintings are fitted with a circuit incorporating conductive paint, meaning that when a viewer places their fingers on the indicated areas, they can switch the lights on inside the buildings and create the illusion that they are occupied. The juxtaposition of the buildings’ grandeur and the found cardboard from the street implies the absurdity of co-existing rough sleeping and long-term disused properties.

The first image is of Bedford House on Wheler Street in Shoreditch which has been empty for 20 years; the second depicts Limehouse Public Library which, having been in use since 1901, fell derelict in 2003; the third is Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Hackney Road. These buildings once served a purpose but now merely symbolise decay, remnants of the past. They could serve their communities once again but for our societal inertia. The fact that the viewer can reactivate them through touch reminds us that we have the power not only to save these buildings, but to help those who call a cardboard box ‘home’ from such a fate.