New Geographies Commission

Stuart Whipps – Necessary Amendments: Homes for the people

This introduction was originally created for UH Festival of Ideas Reimagined, July 2020

Working in partnership with UH Arts, artist Stuart Whipps’s project has cumulated in a new film called Necessary Amendments: Homes for the people showing in the University's Festival of Ideas Reimagined. This was made during 2018-2020 in three locations: The Gibberd Garden in Harlow, Brooke House in Basildon, and The Cockaigne house at The Ryde in Hatfield. Whipps’ art practice has included research into other New Towns including Peterlee and Milton Keynes. He often makes work about things he does not understand and gathers information through personal stories and archival research.

During the summer of 2019, Stuart Whipps presented work-in-progress inspired by his research into architectural and social histories of post-war British new towns. The exhibition included photographs, films and drawings made at the three locations, and was shown at the Art + Design Gallery, UH Arts, the University of Hertfordshire as part of the New Geographies partnership project.

Reflections on the Death of a Procupine [sic], 2019. Exhibition of work in progress

The Necessary Amendments: Homes for the people film is a modest attempt to represent people who live somewhere ‘new’ which of course in most cases is now far from new. How do people feel about where they live? What are their hopes for the future? This is supplemented by historic material from Frederick Gibberd’s archive alongside footage of the volunteer archivists who are custodians of this material.

The decision to work directly with residents and volunteers arose out of lack of material and information found in the extensive records of British new town developments. The homes may be for the people, but their voices are conspicuously absent in this history.

Alongside Whipps’s project, artist Jane Glynn has been running workshops across Hertfordshire to capture people’s thoughts on where they live. Glynn’s New Town Stories project cumulates in a giant book and film, and you can share your stories with some online creative activities designed by her.

We would be grateful if you could complete the New Geographies survey. This survey will take approximately 2-3 minutes and helps the New Geographies consortium of organisations to gather feedback for the funder and to evaluate our projects. You do not need to give your name or email.

With thanks to all residents of the Cockaigne houses at The Ryde, Hatfield and Brooke House, Basildon, and to the volunteers at The Gibberd Garden, Harlow. A special thanks to Zelda Jeffers, Kate Nelson and Pauline Hockley.

new geographies logoC.V.A.N. East logo, East Contemporary Visual Arts Network